Independent Bookstores Learning How To Adjust To The Changing Market
from the good-for-them dept
Just as we were discussing Tower Records inability to adjust to the times, it looks like plenty of independent bookstores are realizing just what they need to do to avoid Tower’s fate. Eerily similar to a number of independent record stores that set themselves up as nighclubs or other “destinations” combined with some setting up their own record labels, it looks like many indie book stores are working to become destinations for the community as well, even clearing out some of the books, adding in tables along with food and drinks (including alcohol). Some are also looking to publish books on their own as well. In both cases, the retailers recognized that the market was changing, and they needed to change along with it. They no longer had an advantage in inventory, but they did have an advantage in being local and being a part of the community where people could gather. While not all of these experiments will survive, it’s great to see these stores willing to change their business models in recognition of how things are changing around them.
Comments on “Independent Bookstores Learning How To Adjust To The Changing Market”
I spent a few hours killing time in a small town bookstore win Wiltshire (UK) last month and they had a PC set up to place orders for pretty much any book with free next day delivery. This appeared to be designed to compete against Amazon and the like.
Combined with a good selection of local books, a comfy sofa and friendly staff made it a much more pleasant way to shop 🙂
I think it would definitely be worth it to bookstores to get into new methods of customer service. One would be offer a website for retail. That way people that grew up with a small local shop can continue to shop from there if/when they move away.
The internet era has enabled a new globalization of culture. While this does allow worldwide cross-pollination of ideas and movements, it tempts mental energy away from investment in much smaller pockets of local feedback and innovation.
I see the importance of this to music and art but think somehow that literature has had a broadened reproductive scope for much longer and is perhaps already the modus operandi.
In this age, it may be necessary to consciously restrain ourselves from participating exclusively in the opportunities granted to us by the internet, in order to retain the rapid local breeding factor in the evolution of arts and ideas, and businesses finding the promotion of this in harmony with their bottom line ought to be applauded.
But I am not so sure literature is in such need of this treatment, given its comfortable experience with a broader scope. Given also its nature as a process with only sluggish collaborative potential.. as compared to graphical arts and music. The vigor of direct personal contact with like-minded local artists, I think, could be less important for literature simply due to its nature than it is for other forms of art. But such feedback and synergy and mutual development is a crucial component to the development of new styles and forms of genius.
As someone who has been on the internet a really long damn time, and used it to work, socialize, and collaborate, let me say that it sucks for all three. Because it enables those activities in situations where they might otherwise be impossible or unavailable, it has value, but the quality of those activities is very often inferior to direct interaction.
But was literature ever a directly interactive process? Sometimes it is. We have Emerson and Thoreau’s gang as prominent american examples. I’m sure there are others. Some kinds of literature, prone to more spontenaeity, such as poetry, might benefit. But then–of all the things the internet can convey, simple raw text is conveyed with the most faithfulness. Once again, there are mitigating factors that put literature at a disadvantage when considering the value of local development.
The only item I can think of working in its favor is the fact that behind literature lies ideas, and if new ideas can be evolved through a local synergy, then that is to be desired.
I have but one point remaining: there is an activity that must be performed in the direct company of your companions, and that the Internet can never replace. Perhaps it is necessary to the development of the camaraderie and candor required to join minds and trade the gametes of brilliance. Certainly, it has been a crucial component of many human socieities since antiquity. It is: mutual drunkenness.
Therefore, getting drunk with book nerd friends sounds like a great idea. I endorse bars in bookstores. Have a nice day, everyone!