Disciplines

Information and Library Science

Abstract

Al McClendon, Majors Company, Kathy Broyles and Jamie Furrh, University of North Texas Health Science Center

Title: 100 Years of Medical Book Selling: A History of the J.A. Majors Company

Objective: Evaluating the challenges and evolution of a medical bookstore in the southern U.S. over the time span of 100 years.

Setting: Using Majors Bookstore as a case study for medical book selling in the south, the poster explores the issues of the method of selling textbooks from face-to-face to bookstore front to mail ordering to online ordering; historical aspects of reconstruction after the civil war and credit available to southern physicians; decisions faced by management including the option to publish, founding satellite stores, expanding warehouse facilities and offering more services to the public during the technology era such as creating online databases for clients and updating store interior by offering publisher specific electronic kiosks; and finally, the present day realities that independent bookstores face including the merger and acquisition of the bookstore’s journal and distribution divisions to mega giants, publisher EBSCO and distributor Baker and Taylor.

Method: The team chose to review books on the histories of large medical publishers. Literature searches on similar present day bookstore mergers and acquisitions were performed. The team also delved into Majors’ archives for photographs, ordering examples, and consulted the book “Fun Along the Way: A History of J.A. Majors Company and Majors Scientific Books, Inc.” published in 1997. These tactics were chosen because of the rarity of an independent bookstore to be in business for the length of time Majors Bookstore has, and because of the lack of historical research covering book selling and in particular medical book selling in the United States.

Main results: The result is a poster illustrating the evolution of a medical bookstore in the southern United States over the time span of 100 years by demonstrating the growth and development of the J.A. Majors Company. There were many unique challenges and choices the store had to make over the past 100 years including decisions in publishing, expansion, distribution, and technology.

Conclusion: By studying this bookstore history, one can learn about the economics of the book selling industry and how bookstores cope with society’s expectations and the rapid changes in current technologies.

Comments

This poster was presented at the South Central Chapter of the Medical Library Association on October 13, 2008 in Dallas, Texas. The poster will also be presented at the Medical Library Association Annual Meeting, Honolulu, Hawaii, in May 2009.