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A friend sent me a link to a Publishers Weekly article about the book market, more specifically about the outgoing president of the Great Lakes Independent Booksellers Association who gave a speech urging her membership to do their level best to get customers not to buy from Amazon, and in fact, to get authors to disable links to Amazon.com on their Web sites.

Wow! Clearly she sees independent bookstores as being in a war for survival. And clearly they are. Olson's, a DC-area bookstore, just closed up shop. Whether the big chains like Borders and Barnes and Noble or the online marketers are to blame is another story.

I had always assumed that Jeff Bezos named his site after the river, seeing the web a huge source of goods and information. But maybe all along he was thinking of the fierce warriors of ancient myth?

In my opinion, fighting online ordering is pretty hopeless. People shop online for convenience (I got an e-mail from Amazon while I was posting!). They shop in a bookstore for atmosphere and something to do. I don't think Olson's every got into the whole Borders-type "book shopping as an experience" thing. The branch near me was small and had no coffee bar, no comfy chairs, no places to socialize. That's something you can't get online. If you're in a war, you need to choose your weapons carefully.

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( 2 comments — Leave a comment )
Oct. 10th, 2008 12:18 pm (UTC)
I've found the bricks-and-mortar stores to be very interesting of late - I think they're digging their own graves (and I say that as a highly interested reader and writer...)

I have tried for three months to schedule a reading for my most recent novel (my ninth novel, each of which was published by a New York publishing house - these are not self-published works.) Borders has refused to host any readings because "we only do readings on a national scale." B&N has refused to host any readings because "we don't want to frighten buyers out of the store during our busy Christmas holiday season (yeah, apparently it starts in October.)"

Now, it seems to me that one thing bricks-and-mortar can do that Amazon can never do is to have events - to bring people together in physical space. My feelings are hurt. But more than that, my concern for the future of bricks-and-mortar has risen exponentially.
Oct. 10th, 2008 12:25 pm (UTC)
Exactly! They can't compete on convenience so they should go for what online can't! What could be more encouraging to readers than having authors there? They think readings scare people away? Yikes!
( 2 comments — Leave a comment )

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