Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Bookstore Closings

“A bookstore is one of the only pieces of evidence we have that people are still thinking.” –Jerry Seinfeld

Independent booksellers have been struggling for years in their efforts to compete with the big box bookstores and Amazon. However, now even the big box stores are starting to close down.

David Streitfeld offered a good explanation of why this is happening. According to his December 27, 2008, article in NY, bookstores are going belly up due to the thousands of individuals who buy and sell books on the internet. Millions of books are now available for prices as low as a penny.

The good news is you can most likely find any book you want and save a lot of money. The bad news is that publishers, authors and local bookstores receive nothing from the sale.

With the economy as it is, I understand wanting to save a buck or two. As a writer, however, it sends chills up my spine. With more bookstore closings, more authors will be struggling, and more publishers going out of business.

My biggest worry is that the many wonderful hours I spend strolling up and down the aisle of bookstores, picking up books and flipping through the pages may become a thing of the past. Shopping on-line simply does not offer the same touchy-feely satisfaction.

I admit I use Amazon—frequently. I’ve also bought from individuals on-line a couple of times. But now I’m going to think twice about my buying habits because I don’t want to ever have to say, “Remember those good old days when you could actually buy a book in a store.”

Where do you buy the majority of your books and why?

Thanks for stopping by.

Tags: Amazon, NY Times, David Streitfeld, bookstores, Jerry Seinfeld,


Joan De La Haye said...

I'm one of those people who buy ebooks. I haven't set foot in an actual book shop in quite some time.

Joan De La Haye

Katie Hines said...

I buy a lot of books on line, but mostly research type books that I can't find at the local bookstore.

However, my reading for pleasure books are either bought at the grocery store or requested from our local library.

Anonymous said...

I live within a couple of blocks of several independent and antiquarian bookstores. Having seen much shift in these stores within the last 3 years, it is very disheartening. It's not just the loss of books that hurts, but it changes the landscape of my beloved downtown. One antiquarian bookseller went belly up and a snow board/skate board shop took over its building. It is an eyesore.

Morgan Mandel said...

We've lost two great small bookstores in my area and I miss them. The large ones are nice, but the small ones make you feel at home.

The larger ones would do better if they promoted all authors more, instead of just their favorites. IMHO.

Morgan Mandel

Heidiwriter said...

Our local indie bookstore closed about a year ago, too. I'd always thought I'd do my first signing event there when my book was published, but alas... I'm guilty of buying from amazon too. Hardback books especially are expensive. I don't know what the answer is. The industry certainly needs some type of reform in regards to returns, etc.

Heidi M Thomas
Cowgirl Dreams

Sharon said...

I must confess that I haven't bought any books for a long, long time. More and more of my buying is done online - of just about everything except groceries. Just makes much better use of my time. Most of the books I've read recently have been gifts, borrowed or from the library.

Beth Groundwater said...

For my own books, I try to visit the local bookstores, but for sending books as gifts to long-distance friends and relatives, it's really hard to beat Amazon's free shipping deal and discount pricing.

Krista said...

Independent bookstores have an opportunity to differentiate themselves by NOT competing with the big chains and online retailers for the easy-target blockbuster titles. The publishing business is changing, too, and small and independent presses are putting out more and more really good books that don't get the buzz because the marketing budget is small or they aren't eligible for the big-name awards --and we all know that there are some mediocre books getting on the bestseller lists because their publishers have clout to buy the spot on the front table at Borders.

That's just the way the business works, and the bookstores need to adapt and find their own customer base. But people outside the industry don't know how it works, and there are plenty of them wasting their money on recycled ideas, not knowing how to find what they're missing.

So with some effort (any business takes effort), a little store can make a name for itself as the miner of gems. People love to find hidden treasures, and they'll keep going back to the store, because the purchases are worth the price. And the store will sell some of the good blockbusters as a trickle down cash cow, not their central business.

Richard Wright said...

To combat bookstore closings it's helpful to differentiate between the lover of books and the lover of bookstores. If you are both - then you can save the bookstore by taking "one-day" bookstore tours, making bookstores part of vacation itineraries, etc. But, if you only want the "book" you can expect the brick and mortar bookstore to fade from the scene. For suggestions on some "destination bookstores" in New England visit

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