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February 08, 2007

Farewell Indies?

Michael Blowhard writes:

Dear Blowhards --

The LA Times' David Streitfeld sums up the sad state of independent bookstores. "I'd be really hard pressed to come up with a single social or demographic trend that is in favor of bookstores," says one former bookstore owner. "It's a lost cause." (Link thanks to Anne Thompson.)



posted by Michael at February 8, 2007


Michael – this was a good story that rightly downplayed nostalgia over book stores with a frank acknowledgment that the Internet and other options were doing better at satisfying customers. Another point which is noted (but understated) is how rising commercial and household rents are forcing out some profitable book stores, and also displacing customers who can no longer afford to live in the neighborhood, as businesses show a marked preference for supposedly high-end commuter shoppers.

By the way, the Times recently featured a story about a woman who is successfully opening a second children’s bookstore, by intelligently satisfying a niche and paying attention to customer needs. The story notes:

“Like many main characters in books, [Christy] Coyne knew she had to buck the odds. In Coyne's saga, the goal is to create a children's bookstore that would be a profitable haven for harried moms and curious kids alike….

Instead of cramming as many books as possible onto towering shelves, the First Page displays books by grade level, face out, taking up valuable sales space.

Shelves are low so parents can keep tabs on their children. Stuffed toy dragons sit next to books on knights and dragons, creating an easy gift combo.

And floors are hardwood to ensure easy cleanup in the stores, which welcome customers bearing food and drink.”

The full story can be found here:,1,1344117.column

Posted by: Alec on February 8, 2007 9:19 PM

Fun link, tks. Good to see people figuring out ways to prosper in a fast-changing environment. And Streitfeld's good, isn't he? He's one of the best of the mainstream's publishing reporters. Most mainstream coverage of book publishing is done by people who really don't have the background they need, but Streitfeld's pretty wised-up ...

Posted by: Michael Blowhard on February 9, 2007 1:05 PM

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