What Are Independent Bookstores Good For?


gsandler writes "Here is a story in Slate on the death of the small bookstore. "Ever since the rise of the book superstore in the 1990s, we have been flooded with lamentations for the rapidly disappearing independent booksellers...Thanks to the indies, it is thought, high-quality but inaccessible books can slowly build their reputations through reader word-of-mouth and eventually take the literary world by storm. This is what people fear is disappearing forever; just last week the famed Cody's of Berkeley announced it is shutting down because of Internet and superstore competition. But does this idealized vision ring true? What exactly are we losing with the passing of the independent bookstore?""


. . .just beware of those pesky children and the 40 year old ladies. I was amused by the conclusion to the article where it suggests that one can visit public libraries to find a lot of what one finds appealing in indie bookstores. The only problem, according to the article, is that public libraries "aren't exactly atmospherically 'cool.'" As much of a believer as I am in libraries, I think to an extent I have to agree with that. I am a pretty regular user of my local library branch, and it is full of children (actually teens on the Internet terminals), and a good number of 40 year old women. But in seriousness, this seems to reflect that libraries need to keep working on that image? Me? I like my bookstores, but I also like the fact I can get a lot of the things the bookstores offer in my public library for free. Yes, I know the taxes support it, so not really free, but still, it feels free. In terms of bookstores, I do like the big boys, but I also pull for the little guys. I still remember this little indie shop where I used to get my Robotech fix and a few other things back in my undergraduate days. It was nice, little, somewhat rundown place, and yet, the people who worked there were cool, knowledgeable, and it was a nice place to hang out. Maybe we can learn from that in our libraries. Would make a nice contrast to constantly having to feel like we have to become B&N or other megastore.

Here is a picture that I took and posted on Flickr that fits this story. http://www.flickr.com/photos/bibliofuture/14733534 0/

What exactly is your problem with 40 year old women?

They intimidate him.

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