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?
10 Replies to “Cry. Another Bookstore Bites the Dust.”
I would be horrified if all the bookstores closed. I live near Powell’s Books and I want to think Portland’s citizens wouldn’t let it close. You never know though, right? Tragically, I don’t even really buy books these days. I go to the library lately. I just can’t afford to really buy books. And tragically, the last time I did…was online (ugh).
It’s a Catch-22, really. Thanks for reading!
Gosh, I hate to hear of bookstores closing, even if they aren’t in my town! We have a Barnes and Noble nearby, and I do shop there … mostly because I believe that a bookstore is almost a sacred place (I’d prefer a locally-owned store, but a chain is better than nothing). More and more, if I am ordering a book online, I order through B&N instead of Amazon. They give free express shipping to members, so it’s a great deal, and I want their brick-and-mortar stores to stay, so they get my online patronage these days.
As an author, yes, online bookstores are great for getting your books out there. But as a reader, there is nothing like being able to go into a place that is full of books and pick them up and see and hold them. (I don’t have an e-reader because I love the look, smell, and feel of books). It’ll be a sad day when there are no real bookstores left. I’m doing what I can to keep that day from coming.
That’s true. Quite a magic place, the bookstore. But, I also said I’d never do an e-reader, but . . .
I can read in bed with one hand now, and don’t have piles of novels under my side of the bed,(which used to drive my husband bonkers!).
You said it very well – caught between the new and old world and yet really value the old world – the library probably still fills in the gap
It does! Although, whenever I take my kids to the library, I find we’re almost the only people there. Except, of course, the computer users.
I am in a rather smaller city of 80,000 – library is always packed and computers are in high demand as well
My favorite bookstore in San Francisco (where I live) is Bird and Beckett Books and I know that they do struggle to keep the lights on sometimes. I try to make it there at least once a month for an event and to buy some books. However, I tend to gravitate toward the $1 paperback sales, so I’m not sure how much my financial support is really helping them. If any of you are ever in San Francisco you should definitely check them out, and there are so many others that are wonderful too, Green Apple, Adobe Books, Dog Eared Books…our city is truly blessed with books.
Great comment!! I bought tons of children’s books at our local store and those aren’t cheap anymore! Just wasn’t enough, I guess.
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