The Way of the Dodo


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.

 

 

 

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15 comments on “The Way of the Dodo

  1. I’m not sure what the problem is, but I’d guess it’s a combination of ebooks, laziness (online purchases), advertising, location, and brand loyalty. I used to be a dedicated Borders shopper, until they went under. They had a good rewards program, and usually any book I wanted in stock. It worked for me. I’ve reluctantly transferred that loyalty to B&N. There’s something special about walking into a big box bookstore that’s indescribable. The possibilities seem endless. I would inspect and appreciate every last book if I had the time.

    That said, there’s certainly something special about a good used bookstore as well. Given the above sentiments, I’ve mostly patronized V-Stock in South County Mall, as it has a very similar big box feel, while still having a wide range of used books.

    Becoming more interested in writing, and following the work of some local authors brought your store to my attention, and I realized it was a short distance from my work (though far from my home). I genuinely appreciate your efforts to support local authors, and that’s important enough of an endeavor for me to patronize your store so you can continue to do so. I hope my business helps, and I hope you find a way to make it all work.

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  2. It would be some commute for me but, if you’d like some feedback from an out-of-towner …. I honestly use Kindle for everything except for the Holy Bible and what I would describe as deep research.

    Wife, although using her Kindle a lot of the time, still would rather have a book-book in her hands.

    We have a used book store that opened about a year ago that I drive by every day. I still haven’t been in it. What Does This Mean?

    I hope your sales increase sharply when ObamaCare kicks in, in full.
    😉

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  3. Amira K. says:

    Hey, thanks for posting this. I think it’s important that people know about the plight of indie bookstores. It’s good to share the word and to let people know that a few bucks of disposable income will help keep a family business going.

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  4. My Kindle was only used for free downloads and Fifty Shades until last year. But even now, I only download books I’ve paid for if I want something quick to read because I’m going away and don’t want to pack my bookcase. Otherwise I do prefer print books.

    If I lived closer I’d buy from your store. Unfortunately I can’t justify the airfare for a book. My books tend to be second hand from charity shops and eBay, although I do have a few from Amazon that I’ve bought when I’ve been gifted vouchers. I love browsing in shops though, so will always choose an indie store over an online shop – which is one of the reasons I want to open my own bookshop!!

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  5. Dianna Graveman says:

    Robin, I love your bookstore, and I love browsing for used books (which I can actually sometimes afford, unlike new edition hard covers!). I don’t live too close and work long hours, but I’ll try to pop in again soon. Thanks for supporting local authors! You rock.

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  6. Indie bookstores deserve more recognition. Strolling through a bookstore, touching a book beats electronic readers or Amazon anyday for me.

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