Member Blogs > ten pound island book companyTale of Two Book Stores

  • Mon, 17 Dec 2012 09:11:22    Permalink

    Santa checks her device. She wants to find out who's been naughty, and who's been niceJust finished reading an inspiring article in Atlantic Magazineabout the opening of a new book store.
    Two years ago, after Nashville lost its last downtown indie, and both big box book outlets closed, bestselling author and local resident Ann Patchett opened a store of her own.
    The real story is more complicated and interesting than that, and Ms. Patchett tells it charmingly in her article. The bottom line is that Nashville again has an excellent indie book operation. And Patchett, thanks to her many connections, is packing her store with great reads and bringing in a full schedule of famous authors. It sounds like a wonderful place.
    Of course it didnt hurt that she started with a national reputation, an international cast of friends and supporters, publicity bumps from the New York Times (page 1), the Diane Rehm Show, the Colbert Report, a seemingly endless book tour on which to promote her bricks and mortar endeavor, and $300,000 in startup money.
    Shes frank and honest about all this, and its hard to begrudge her particularly after a rousing finish in which she says in essence, yes shes been lucky, but she still believes that it is possible to change the course of the corporate world. Amazon, she says, doesnt get to make all the decisions; the people can make them, by choosing how and where they spend their money. If what a bookstore offers matters to you, then shop at a bookstore.
    Bravo Ann Patchett!
    If theres still a bookstore at which to shop
    More by way of continuity than contrast, heres a report on a new store of a different sort. I read it on the IOBAlistserv the same day as the Nashville piece. Its from a colleague  - a smart, dedicated woman who, with her partner, decided to open a used book store.
    "We just opened a brick-and-mortar two months ago, after months of prep, many more months of planning, and months and months prior of a steady decline in online sales. We are two fulltime booksellers trying to make a living off our business. The last couple of years have been so very difficult. Sometimes it feels like we're drowning. Don't get me wrong - there are positive things happening. But we are having to work 2-3x harder just to stay afloat, to hold on until the economy makes some meaningful improvement and the whole book industry settles down at least a little bit into whatever form it's gonna take for the years ahead. Because we want to remain booksellers."
    This may sound grim at first pass, especially compared to the airy, optimistic piece in Atlantic Magazine. But for my money this is exactly the kind of person Patchetts dream needs if it hopes to come true. Someone whos ready to lay it on the line and work hard to keep it going.
    Its been a rough week for everyone, so Ill shut up now.

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