There was a 6-column-inch blurb in Sunday's Times that Seattle-based Amazon on Christmas Day sold more e-books for its Kindle than paper-based books.
Interesting factoid, but more startling was the next sentence that Laredo, Texas (pop. 250,000) closed its last bookstore. (Laredo's population is only slightly smaller than that of Newark, NJ, one of the poorer urban areas.) I checked my online Yellow Pages, though, and actually came up with eight Laredo bookstores, three of which were Christian and one Spanish-language. Two recognizable names were Barnes & Noble and B. Dalton. That left two that appeared to be independent bookstores.
What's the takeaway?
> A lot of people got Kindles for Christmas. (My Seattle-based friend has 4,600 books on his e-reader, most which he admits he'll never read.)
> Texans read less than Newarkers, where there are 84 listings for bookstores. Newark's median household income is $26,913. Laredo's median HH income is $23,832, but has a lower cost of living index.
> There's a sea change coming in the way--and whether--we read books. (Does Steve Jobs know something about e-books that led to the iPad?)
> Laredo's population is 97.1% Latino, but unemployment is just 6%. (Are Hispanics working too hard to read?)
> Bookstores are an endangered enterprise.
I think all of these assumptions are correct.