The last local bookstore in my town is closing. This will only leave us with a Barnes & Noble, but what you should know is that more people shopped at the other store, the local store that’s closing. That’s the scary (or scarier) part.
To put it into perspective, I had a book signing last winter at both places. The smaller, family-owned bookstore had about triple the amount of traffic and I sold and signed almost a hundred books. At Barnes & Noble, someone walked into the joint maybe every ten to fifteen minutes, sometimes for a coffee, and I only signed and sold four books.
I’ve heard all the sobbing and woe over the book industry for years now, but I didn’t ever think it’d make my hometown bookstore close up for good. I suppose the Barnes & Noble will be next, too. And then, in a county that’s home to over 850,000 people, we’ll have no bookstores for new material.
Yet, I’m an offender.
I read almost all my books on my Kindle. Or, the Kindle app on my phone.
Did I contribute to the closing down of my town’s last family-owned bookstore? Yes.
Am I sorry? As an author, absolutely. I lost a sure-fire spot to conduct future book signings. It was an easy in, my hometown advantage.
Am I sorry as a consumer? Tougher question. Like I’ve said, I’m an offender when it comes to the death of print because I adore my e-reader.
I hate to see the world in which I operate and play in get messy . . . a world where an author who prefers e-books strongly laments the perpetual closing of bookstores.
I’ve also yet to witness how this transition away from honest-to-goodness bookstores to the world of e-readers and internet sales affects my bottom line. As far as I know, most of my sales are coming from Amazon anyway, so I won’t begin to poo-poo them for taking over the book-selling world.
If what’s happening in my county is happening all over, does that mean the death of book signings all together? Maybe it does. But it is certainly not the death of interacting with your favorite author.
With the advent of Facebook fan pages, Skype for book clubs, Twitter, and YouTube, there are more ways than one to “meet” an author. Besides, if fans are e-book readers like me, they probably don’t want you to sign their device. (In fact, they might punch you for that.)
So, is it all for the better, the worse, or is it a different kind of the same? I’ve heard mixed reactions. Some authors admit that if not for the reach of Amazon, they wouldn’t have sold any books. Other authors feel they get lost in all the zeros and ones of Amazon digital code, as well as the influx of self-published books, side-by-side their own in the search query. Whereas, in a store, they’d be easier to spot in their niche.
In the end, it’s hard to say that consumers are upset with these changes. They direct the market after all, and the direction they’ve chosen is that bookstores aren’t a necessity for their literary enjoyment.
But as an author who’s feeling the death of bookstore marketing events. . . we’ll see.
What about you? What would your world be like if your town lost all its bookstores?