opinion When you're a tech junkie like me, when you delve into the Blio project, you will find yourself going 'OMG, Ray Kurzweil!'. It's a similar situation if you're a bookseller and have been up to speed with recent events in eBooks. You may find yourself going 'OMG, Baker & Taylor!'
Now, in my writing in Delimiter and now in Oz-E-Books, I am discovering new and weird things in the realm of Australian publishing. One thing is that Australian small booksellers really hate the Australian distribution system, which is owned by the Australian publishing houses.
The Australian system is focused on the big stores and chains to the detriment of the specialist shops and small book retailers. This is a gap that companies like B&T are taking advantage of, with a series of seminars and presentations via (or organised by) the Australian Booksellers Association.
Now, they are not the only US distributor in the eBook game, with Overdrive offering a turnkey marketplace for web retailers (as used by Read Without Paper). However, the B&T play is interesting, because it is attempting to get the local booksellers into the game, rather than create competitors.
Now, as my bookshop-owning friend Tim at Infinitas points out, good small book retailers can do something that large booksellers can not do: create communities. As someone that has been going to Infinitas book reader meetings since the early 1990's, and have helped or attended author signings, book readings, games days and a lot of other events, having a bookshop as a focus of your book lifestyle creates strong loyalty to the shop, and if the staff know you well, the human powered book referral system is by far more powerful than Amazon's data mining.