Friday, August 13, 2010

To Ostrich or not to Ostrich--Why Doesn't Daniel Whine About Ebook Readers More?

Watching everything play out in the bigger world of books, you'd think I'd be more panicky about this whole thing. All my friends at independent bookstores are following the moves of Amazon, Borders, Barnes and Noble, and what the heck, even Indigo (Canada) rather closely.

The court hearings. The buyout offers. The changing merchandise mix.

Are we worried about the future? Of course we are. I've been worried since the first B&N opened down the street from our the Brookfield Schwartz store in the early nineties. Heck, I was worried when Audubon Court shocked the system of the Book Nook in Whitefish Bay in the late eighties (It was a great store and we are friends with lots of the folks from there, but at the time, it was our competitor, and you know how I worry about that).

And when Amazon started growing. And when Costco opened. And when Target dramatically expanded its book section. And when Schwartz closed. And when Soaps and Scents closed on the next block. (But I am still loyal to Karen's store at Mayfair. How could I not be? It's wonderful. Here's another weird voting site with her details. Did I mention she's a fan of North Point Historic Districts).

Yes, we're finally back in stock on North Point Historic Districts. How's that for a detour?

This is why I don't worry about the big picture. I sweat the small stuff. Today we were ordering from Tag for Christmas and we had to decide how much to go into tabletop. Magnets? Yes. Ornaments? I've been talked into them, and we probably need a better tree this year. Candles? OK, but not scented. Silly dishes and mugs? Well, only if we really, really like them. Dish towels? I had to keep them out of the store because two of my booksellers got a little freaky on me about that.

How can you worry about ebooks destroying the culture of indie bookstores when you're busy worrying about magnets?

There's a conversation going on, but I can't bring myself to join in. Coward? Breaking relationships? One of my ok customers is now using an ebook reader in the coffee shop next door. How would I feel if he used one here? As it is, customers (in quotes) bring in library books and read here. Other folks grab a pile of books and make lists and leave. Those lists are often using cell phone apps nowadays. It still leaves a pile of books to reshelve, and sometimes a coffee stain.

I could have whiney signs up, but as a customer, they just make me uncomfortable.

Oh, and the website's shopping cart is still unfinished. Not that we'd be selling piles of ebooks if it was working correctly.

For the record, it behooves me as an indie bookseller to link you to the Regulator Bookshop's great blog piece, "Five things Jeff Bezos doesn't want you to know about the Kindle." The Regulator is a great bookstore in Durham, North Carolina. Here's their website.

1 comment:

Daniel Goldin said...

We wound up coming in just under the minimum for extended dating, so I bought one design of dishtowels after all.