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NASHVILLE — After a beloved local bookstore closed here last December and another store was lost to the Borders bankruptcy, this city once known as the Athens of the South, rich in cultural tradition and home to Vanderbilt University, became nearly barren of bookstores.
A collective panic set in among Nashville’s reading faithful. But they have found a savior in Ann Patchett, the best-selling novelist who grew up here. On Wednesday, Ms. Patchett, the acclaimed author of “Bel Canto” and “Truth and Beauty,” will open Parnassus Books, an independent bookstore that is the product of six months of breakneck planning and a healthy infusion of cash from its owner.
With the proliferation of big-budget superhero movies, it’s easy to forget about the pulpy comic books on which the characters are based. But it seems many people have: sales of comics are way down. As fanboys have become fanmen, publishers are desperate to find new — and younger — readers.
So this month, DC Comics — the home of Superman, Batman, and dozens of others — is overhauling its entire lineup of superheroes. They’re called the “New 52.” All the old classic storylines have been thrown out the window. Clark Kent and Lois Lane? No longer married. And that’s just the tip of the Kryptonite.
“I think they’re just throwing a lot of stuff at the wall to see what sticks,” says Tom Adams, owner of Bergen Street Comics in Brooklyn.
He tells Kurt Andersen that while the reboot has boosted sales considerably, he still worries about the long term trends. “I think [DC] should be writing comics that are a little more geared toward the smart 12 year old,” Adams says, “as opposed to the smart 20-45 year old who’s reading [the same] comics that he’s been reading for years.”
This was a piece on Studio 360 on NPR
Borders Employees Vent Frustrations in ‘Ode to a Bookstore Death’
As Borders closed forever this weekend, one patron snapped a photograph of a bitter bookseller’s manifesto an unidentified store: “Things We Never Told You: Ode to a Bookstore Death.”
The massive list collected years worth of pent-up sarcasm and frustration, spawning thousands of angry (and bemused) reactions from bookstore patrons.
Story in the NYT has this catch line behind the title -- A legendary bookstore in Berkeley, Calif., closes, another casualty of the shift to e-commerce.
Here is the full article: Serendipity Books, R.I.P.
Here is one paragraph that mentions libraries: The lack of direction was on purpose and in earnest. Mr. Howard wanted people to search for books and find not just what they were looking for but the book next to it, which they might want more if they only realized it existed. “The bookstore is an infinite array of material and knowledge of which you know nothing,” he said. “If you’re focused, you go to the library.”
In the story it says that the store owner died of pancreatic cancer. Connecting the demise of the store to e-commerce or e-books seems like a stretch.
From the New York Times article entitled "Of Bugs and Books", author Ann Patchett (State of Wonder) speaks about books, ebooks, bookstores, best-sellers, reading habits, author appearances, cicadas (the bug part) and so on:
"Everything cycles back around. Things I didn’t think could ever make a comeback — Newt Gingrich and platform shoes — proved capable of startling resurgence. Now when someone tells me a trend is dead, I think, no, probably just dormant.
Take bookstores, for example. With the demise of the Borders chain and the shaky footing of Barnes and Noble, one might be tempted to write off the whole business. But as one who spent her summer on a book tour, I would like to offer this firsthand report from the front lines: Americans are still reading books. Night after night after night I showed up in a different bookstore and people were there with their hardbacks. Sure, I signed a couple of iPad covers, Kindle covers. I’ve got no problem with that. But just because some people like their e-readers doesn’t mean we should sweep all the remaining paperbacks in a pile and strike a match. Maybe bookstores are no longer 30,000 square feet, but they are selling books. "
Patchett and her business partner, Karen Hayes, and will open the doors to Parnassus Books in her hometown of Nashville in October.
Just Books owner Marion Boucher Holmes says the increasing popularity of electronic readers, in particular Apple's iPad, is forcing her to close the beloved Old Greenwich shop. Boucher Holmes bought the Arcadia Road store in 2008 from Greenwich resident Jenny Lawton, who at the time said financial pressure was forcing her to sell the store or seek investors. While she knew it was a difficult business, Boucher Holmes said sales had dropped significantly in the past 10 months.
"We were always dealing with the Kindle and Amazon, but the iPad has really accelerated," Boucher Holmes said. "Old Greenwich is a small community, and if you start losing 25 to 30 percent of your readers to the electronic medium, the business is just not sustainable."
The 10-year-old store is selling its inventory at 50 percent off, and will permanently shut its doors when everything is sold, though the plan is for the store to be out by the end of the month. Just one of many sad endings for America's indie bookstores. Who can you have an intelligent conversation with at Amazon.com?
Fifteen reasons for partnering with your local bookstore from Bookselling This Week.
In September 2009, two things became apparent to us at Lake Forest Book Store: one, e-reader sales were hurting independent booksellers, and, two, the libraries of Lake County, Illinois, were interested in and equipped to host author events, but couldn’t do so in a manner that was cost effective. These realizations led to a flurry of activity and a vigorous round of phone tag that resulted in our arranging to partner a store event with a library (and, thus, its larger venue and audience). Nearly two years later, Lake Forest Book Store works with 15 of the 20 libraries in Lake County and has plans to partner with the remaining five by the end of 2011.
When Lake Forest Book Store approached the current 15 libraries, we proposed that the store would bring authors for library events, but only with the stipulation that we would be able to sell books. The libraries were ecstatic, and the whole partnership has been beneficial on every level.
Just as bookstores need customers, libraries need patrons. State funding is based on user traffic, and lower library usage equals a smaller budget — and fewer opportunities for the community. Author events have proved a reliable method of building patron traffic. In the past, a library that wanted to host an author had to pay a speaker’s fee, and library charters prevented internal book sales. Without the bookstore-library partnership, these events required more of a budget than they would end up stimulating.
From The Millions, an excellent article by Steve Himmer:
One recent morning, my almost four year old daughter started crying out of the blue. I asked her what was wrong, and she wailed, “I don’t have a library card!” So with a proud paternal bibliophile’s heart swollen in my chest, I strapped her into her car seat and we set off for the library in search of a library card and — at her request — in search of Tintin books like those I’d told her were my favorite stories at the library when I was young.
We went first to the branch library in our end of town, a small, round building with walls almost entirely of glass. All those windows, and the books behind them, make it look pretty inviting, and we parked our car in the lot and I held my daughter’s hand as she skipped to the door, bubbling over with excitement. Unfortunately, it was closed; I’d known municipal budget cuts had reduced the hours of all library branches, but I’d thought that only meant it was closed on Fridays. Instead, it meant this branch — and all others, apart from the main library downtown — were open only a couple of hours four afternoons through the week. No mornings, no evenings, no weekends. -- Read More
Libraries hope book buyers opt to borrow
Libraries may see an increase in foot traffic once Waldenbooks closes at the Susquehanna Valley Mall next month, leaving Snyder County without a national bookstore for the first time since 1978.
Borders, the second-largest bookstore chain in the United States, filed for bankruptcy in February and announced in July that it would close its remaining 400 stores, which include Waldenbooks outlets.