Oh, yes, this blog post is indeed running late today – by about eight hours! I intended to write about something entirely different but, in light of today’s designated “thinking day,” my new topic just barged right on in here.
And yes, it’s about bookstores. I worked on the accounts today, out of necessity; not to pay bills, just to see where we sit.
And we seem to be sitting in a deep, dark hole. Surrounded by a musty scent of decay. There used to be a rope dangling from the top, but what’s left is broken and frayed and just out of reach. So here we sit.
The last time I blogged about this, in a different venue, I was called “whiny.” I’m not whining, and I’m not asking for a handout. I didn’t do that the other time either. What I did do was ask people to support local businesses, and I pointed out that if one person from each household purchased one $3 used book from us, each month, we could pay those bills I mentioned earlier.
How many books does the average household purchase in a month’s time? I couldn’t find that, doing a quick search, but in 2009 this average household spent about $118 in a year on books. So, with 5K homes in our city, that comes out to over half a million dollars each year. I guarantee you that that is so far from our annual sales that there is NO COMPARISON!
Where are these books coming from? Amazon? Probably. I don’t really care, I just know that either my city is illiterate or they’re going elsewhere to buy books. Other indie stores? Maybe. Most of them have been in business longer than we have and many of them have much bigger budgets for advertising.
On the other hand, when I’ve mentioned how odd it is that we STILL have people coming in almost two years after our grand opening, asking how long we’ve been here, other booksellers have told me that they have that problem too. I mean, my city is roughly ten square miles in size and our store is on the main drag, so to speak. Is everyone who lives here homebound?
Funny story, and yes, I’m going to mention it. I met our mayor last month, introduced myself. He said he knew who I was, had seen me online, etc., THEN – he asked if our bookstore was IN HIS CITY. My tongue is still sore from clamping down on it to keep from doing ANYthing but smiling and nodding.
Maybe it’s E-readers – is that the problem? Do people just talk about how much they love “real” books, but secretly just put them on their Kindles?
I don’t have any other answers, but again, let me stress that I’m not whining – we took a big risk, and if it all goes under, it goes under. And if that happens, I wonder how many people are going to say, oh, there was a bookstore there? I wish we’d KNOWN.
Bottom line: come into the damn bookstore already. Buy a book. Three bucks. It won’t kill you. I promise. We’d like to be here so you can do that. In ten years. Or two. Or in six months. Or, hey, we might end up living there – we’d be open 24/7, just like Amazon.