Bookstores are closing; e-books are gaining popularity; Amazon is positioned to publish without paper; would-be authors can self-publish – reading books is not what it used to be. In her article for Sunday Business in the New York Times – The Bookstore’s Last Stand – Julie Bosman targets Barnes and Noble as the last bastion for brick and mortar publishers. Ironically, the megastore now in jeopardy was one of two (Borders now gone) that threatened the demise of independent bookstores (just like Tom Hanks and Meg Ryan: Fox Books vs. The Little Shop Around the Corner).
Banking on the Nook to save their storefront operation, Barnes and Noble may have to follow Amazon, expanding into toys and games to attract customers. Evidently, books may not be enough to tempt buyers.
Independent book stores are hanging on, supported by their faithful customers, using the social media like Facebook and Twitter to connect with the electronically bent. Book Soup, conveniently positioned near the stars in West Hollywood, regularly offers book signings and discussions with those rich and famous, who also wrote books. Others, Like Politics and Prose, in Washington, D.C., maintain a following with newsletters, events, and posts that reach beyond the Beltway. Some small bookstores offer a flavor of comfort and exclusivity, and readers seek them out – like the Annapolis Bookstore on Maryland Avenue.
Do you have a favorite independent bookstore that you frequent? Have you bought a book there recently?
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When I came across the ocean without my books and the shelves sat bare until the slow boat carrying them could catch up, anyone who came into my office would think I did not read. After a few weeks, a few new books spread scattered on a lonely shelf; it would be impossible not to keep getting books, but those that I had kept for many years were not there – and I missed them. When they finally arrived, I closed the door and got reacquainted – smoothing their covers, rereading the inscriptions, opening to worn bookmarked pages with passages I wanted to remember.
With the shelves stacked high with a wall of books, the room was warmer and friendlier. Now when anyone came in, they went to the shelves first to see what I read – sometimes, a familiar book started a conversation or a connection.
A room without books is like a body without a soul………..Cicero
Bruce Feiler tries to snoop on his friend’s bookshelf in his article for the New York Times, Snooping in the Age of eBook, surreptitiously trying to discover what his friend is like through what she likes to read. With electronic books replacing print on paper, snooping is not so easy – books are not on display but hidden inside a Kindle, Nook, or iPad. Reading Feiler’s article reminded me of the room that had no books for a while.
That room is gone now, and many of the books have been given away or donated to the library, but some remain in a smaller room on shorter shelves. If you could see them, you’d know that I keep them to remind me of who I am, what I dream, where I’ve been, and why I read. And, if you could snoop there, you’d know a little more about me.