Movie - Indies Under Fire


In the span of just a decade, over half of the nation's independent bookstores vanished. This revealing documentary tells the stories of three such stores fighting for survival. In Capitola, California, a developer's plans to bring Borders to town prompts a fierce debate over the rights of "big box" retailers to locate in a place famous for its small town charm. In Palo Alto, news of the closing of Printers Inc. Bookstore prompts a local citizen to mortgage his house to try to save it. And in Santa Cruz, when a Borders moves in down the street from the town's oldest bookstore,Bookshop Santa Cruz, protests and vandalism ensue. This compelling film follows these stories and raises tough questions about the place of local culture in an increasingly homogenized world.


In a blog entry called I Hate Bookstores the blogger gave this opinion: I really don't think brick and mortar stores are threatened by online book stores, I think they're threatened by the fact that they don't have what people want often enough. They'll probably have the best sellers and have the benefit of instant gratification but for anything even a little bit older or less mainstream it seems to get very hit and miss, very quickly.

Seventy percent of US adults haven't been in a bookstore for the last 5 years. Source

I just watched the trailer to the Indies documentary. Man, the protestors outside the Borders were massively obnoxious. My working philosophy is that is your protest has some sort of chant you are probably wrong.

In the trailer they show a graph with the rise in the number of Borders in the country. The graph shows 507 stores in 2005. If we round up to 600 and divide by the population of the U.S. you come up with one Borders store for every 500,000 people. If we don't round the stores up to 600 you would have one Borders store for every 588,000 people. Doesn't seem like market saturation to me.

There is an article in Slate titled: What Are Independent Bookstores Really Good For? Not much.
Article opens with: K-A-F-K-A. That was for a Borders information clerk. "Ghana, is that in South America?" Another superstore sales assistant had never heard of the Village Voice.

Ever since the rise of the book superstore in the 1990s, we have been flooded with lamentations for the rapidly disappearing independent booksellers-cool hang-outs where the staff knows something about literature, the owners select each title with care, and bearded patrons sit at crowded coffee tables, talking about Jack Kerouac or the latest translation of Tolstoy. Click link above to read the rest of the article.

At the end of the article there is a place for reader comments. I think many people in flyover country will agree with JohnK's comment.
People who lament the death of independent bookstores are people who lived in the few areas of the country that had decent bookstores. Twenty years ago if you didn't live in Manhattan or a few other places, your choice of books was limited by the local B.Dalton in the mall. They were terrible. Living out in flyover country, I cannot describe what a godsend Barnes and Noble, Borders and Amazon have been. You can now get anything and more importantly browse a huge collection of books and discover books you wouldn't have known existed before the advent of the big book store.

I think the hatred of the big book store is no small part the result of elitists and snobs' anger over us philistines out in middle America having access to good books and thus making the snobs a little less privileged than they once were.


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