BOOKSTORES – RARER BY THE DAY – REDUX
A while back, I did the article, Bookstores – Rarer By The Day. It was triggered by the closing of our local Barnes & Noble in downtown Las Vegas. That was in October 2012 and the store closed December 31, 2012. We now have adjusted to driving to Henderson, which has turned out to be about the same distance. However, there have been a few more ominous events since that time.
The main Barnes & Noble store in New York, a staple for almost a century, give or take, is shutting its doors, if it hasn’t already. When the main store of almost the only chain bookstore left in the country shutters its doors, is that a good sign? This store, not to put too sympathetic of a light on it, was directly or indirectly responsible for putting many a mom-and-pop bookstore in the local area out of business, effectively stifling the competition with the “big box” idea. Yet, at the same time, along came a virtual big box company, Amazon and guess what? The real big box store, or should I say, the paper book store, is in serious trouble, and I’m not just talking about the struggling Barnes & Noble. This is an entire industry.
As one who detests e-books, I refuse to give in to the e-reader, at least for as long as I can. I’ve tried my wife’s. She bought a book she didn’t like. That’s exactly one of my huge issues with them, by the way. More on that later. She asked if I’d like to try reading it. Since I was between books, I said I’d give it a try since she had an actual paper book she wanted to read.
I enjoyed the story, though it wasn’t really my taste. At least it was third-person. However, scrolling down the pages with that darn reader bugged me. Sure, when I stopped reading for any reason, my place was right there. I didn’t have to worry about losing my spot. I could also change the font size. But I couldn’t jump to the end, or smell the pages. I didn’t have any tactile feel of the paper. I also could very well make the mistake she did and have no way to tell whether the book sucked before I bought it. Sure, without reading the whole story, you can’t tell everything, but at least you can pop here and there and look for various writing styles to see what the author is up to in a paper book. Not so with an e-book. You’re stuck with whatever writing sample, if any, Amazon or whoever, decides to give you. Often as not, it doesn’t truly represent what’s actually between the pages (or electrons).
Now as for Amazon, in Morgan St. James latest Writer’s Tricks Of The Trade newsletter, there was a short article that mentioned the big Kahuna at Amazon has some knew “something” that is going to blow everyone away. This has nothing to do with the UAV’s (or robotic delivery planes), which may or may not be a dumb idea. The jury’s out on that one. Anyway, this “something” is supposed to be so revolutionary as to be… well, it will make the Segway, or whatever it’s called, look like amateur tinkering… I guess. Remember all the hoopla about that gadget?
Conventional book publishing is taking serious hits. It’s not gone, but some people are just giving up on them before the fight is even over, and that’s just the publishers, distributors and sellers! Instead of putting their heads together and coming up with revolutionary ideas to keep things afloat, I think a lot of them are bowing to the imaginary inevitable and giving up.
I wonder whatever happened to those print-on-demand printers that were supposed to revolutionize the industry? Yeah, the cost of one was phenomenal, but I was expecting the costs to eventually go down if there was any kind of demand. You know, go to the bookstore, pick out the book you want, sit down at the local Starbucks and wait while the clerk goes in the back and prints it off for you.
We can only dream.
Happy book buying. At least while you still can.