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The Final Chapter: How Independent Booksellers Can Adapt to a Changing Industry

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The purpose of this thesis is to examine the current state of the brick-and-mortar bookselling industry, with particular focus on independent bookstores and their strengths and weaknesses, and synthesizing recommendations for these bookstores to reinvent themselves in a rapidly changing

The purpose of this thesis is to examine the current state of the brick-and-mortar bookselling industry, with particular focus on independent bookstores and their strengths and weaknesses, and synthesizing recommendations for these bookstores to reinvent themselves in a rapidly changing market. This examination is highly relevant given recent concerns that, with the rise of e-retailers like Amazon and the closure of bookstore chain Borders, brick-and-mortar bookstores may be superseded by new digital vendors. Independent bookstores are thought to be at a particular disadvantage to these retailers, given their limited size and resources, as well as the lack of capital or consumer base that a larger chain like Barnes and Noble can draw upon to invest in emerging technology. With these more limited financial opportunities, independent bookstores must find different ways to not only keep abreast of the technology that consumers are coming to expect from modern businesses, but attract customers.
To gain insight into the state of the industry and current position of independent bookstores, I will first examine the past fifty years of the brick-and-mortar bookstore, followed by a Porter’s Five Forces analysis of the industry threats and a SWOT analysis to compare the strengths and weaknesses of independent bookstores. Next, the patrons of independent bookstores will be discussed with a focus on the two largest consumer groups of Millennials and Baby Boomers, their characteristics, and the opportunities they provide to bookstores. After this there will be an exploration of the competitors to brick-and-mortar bookstores, focusing on Amazon and then touching on some of the other rivals to bookstores’ consumer base. The next section will be an in-depth analysis of a variety of bookstores across the United States, with attention to their successful practices, goals, concerns, and failures. First, there will be a comparison of industry success and failure through case studies of Borders and Powell’s bookstores. Next, there will be a comparison of five beloved independent bookstores across the country to share their varied competitive advantages that are the secret to their success. Finally, there are primary source interviews with the employees of three major Phoenix bookstores, which provide insight into the goals, current projects, attitudes, and inner strengths of these businesses. Finally, the thesis will conclude with a section offering solutions and suggestions for independent bookstores to pursue based on the primary and secondary research discussed above. These recommendations are focused on five key areas:
• Community
• Consumers
• Store Design
• Technology
• Diversification
Ultimately, the information provided by this research and these interviews indicates that while vital business changes are being pursued by independent and chain bookstores across the United States, the independent bookstore shows no signs of disappearing in favor of online vendors or e-readers.

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Date Created
2017-05

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Getting Personal: Utilizing Branding Strategies for Individuals

Description

Branding is one of the most important tools a business can use. Whether consumers know it or not, every purchasing decision that they make – be it for a product or service – is rooted in the brand.

Branding is one of the most important tools a business can use. Whether consumers know it or not, every purchasing decision that they make – be it for a product or service – is rooted in the brand. Thus, it is somewhat of a surprise that branding for individuals did not become popularized until 1997, with Tom Peters’ article “The Brand Called You.” In his article, Peters remarks on how changes in the marketplace and technology make developing a personal brand more accessible, as well as more important. The increasingly competitive marketplace combined with the rise of social media means that personal branding is even more important and more attainable today. Thus, it is vital for students entering the workforce to develop a brand that will allow them to distinguish themselves. This research examines whether or not students understand what personal branding is and if they have taken the steps to develop their personal brand. The research questions are as follows:
• Do students understand what personal branding is?
• Are students able to define their skills?
• Do students have a career plan?
• Do students have a plan to promote their brand?

A pilot study was first distributed to students of Arizona State University which found that students lack an understanding of what personal branding is and have a need for the knowledge and tools to develop a personal brand. A workshop was then developed to address these issues. This workshop was held three times: first, for a Landscape Architecture class, second, for a marketing class, and third, for a student sales organization. The workshop discussed branding, personal branding, and then the participants were able to begin working on developing their own personal brand. The students in the first workshop had two sessions and were able to complete their own personal brand process with the workshop leader, while participants from the second and third workshops completed it on their own, after only a single workshop session. After completing the in-person workshop, participants shared their brand with their fellow students in a Google Plus page. Finally, participants completed an exit survey. This exit survey was used to measure the research questions.

The first workshop proved to be most effective, even though the participants in the first workshop were all landscape design students and the majority of the participants in the second and third workshops were business students. It was found that unless the students’ own brand development process was finished during the workshop or affected the students’ grade, it would not be completed. It was also evident in all of the workshops that slides with imagery were more effective at starting discussions than the text-heavy slides. As such, future workshops should be designed with a greater time allowance, the intent of the students’ own brand development process to be completed during the workshop, and the presentation should be redesigned to better initiate discussion among participants.

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Date Created
2015-12

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Creating Your Digital Identity: The Relationship between Personal Branding and Social Media

Description

As social media continues to grow, so does the need to have a strong online presence that exhibits a unique personal brand. However, with social media platforms ranging from Twitter to Instagram to LinkedIn, it is a challenge for Millennials

As social media continues to grow, so does the need to have a strong online presence that exhibits a unique personal brand. However, with social media platforms ranging from Twitter to Instagram to LinkedIn, it is a challenge for Millennials to know how to build a personal brand that is appropriate for all potential audiences. More than just friends and family are viewing our social media profiles; it is common practice for potential employers too and it can be difficult to cater our social media for both. This thesis looks at how personal branding has evolved with the rapid expansion of social media and the relationship between the two. It also looks at the importance of personal branding and best/worst practices for social media. Although there is an emphasis of professional networking platforms in my primary research, I also discuss how social media affects our personal, along with our professional, relationships. There is also a focus on the types of perceptions people make about someone’s personal brand based off of what they see on social media. To better understand people’s perceptions of social media as it relates to personal branding, I conducted interviews with job recruiters and administered a survey, which tested recommendations collected from the first interviews.

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Date Created
2019-05