Monday, March 23, 2009

I can't think of a clever title...but it is Musing Monday!

Wow, the start of another week, so it must be time for Musing Monday, from the mind of Rebecca at Just One More Page.

Today’s MUSING MONDAYS post is about bookstores…

How many bookstores do you frequent? Do you have a favourite? If so, which one and what makes it so?

Frequent...hmmmm...that would be none. None?? None she say? But...but...she loves books. How she she not love bookstores? Well, I do not really love my bookstores.
I have two choices locally. One, I have written about before, Borders. True, they have books, so you have to like that. But, as I have said, it seems fewer and fewer every time I am there. Would you like a CD...a greeting calender...some stationary...a banana nut muffin with a Caramel Latte...and a copy of a bestseller, then Borders is your place. Look, I understand they have to make a living. I want them to succeed. But it seems that books are getting pushed further and further back, actually physically out to the edges of the store. I fear, sometime it will be a few tables of bestsellers.
I also hate that while they still have some nice leather chairs around the stores, every time I am there, it seems one more disappears and the remaining ones are hidden in some new spot.

My other choice is an outlet of a local chain, Atlantic Books. I would have made a link, but I looked and they have a truly poor web site. A list of locations and that is about it. They have about 15 stores, in South Jersey, Delaware and a couple in Pennsylvania. They sell a lot of remainders it seems, but also a pretty good selection of bestsellers and newish books. Once the remainders were very, very cheap, now, not so much, but still you can sometimes find a great bargain. But...
well, my location in located in a shopping center next to a boxing gym. They share a wall, a big wall. A big wall that actually vibrates with the loud music and thumping bass being played next door. The place is a big open space, too bright, with that constant thumping. I don't mind a little background music, but this is unacceptable and not compatible with my browsing habits.

Because let's face it folks, for many of us, including myself, part of the pleasure of a bookstore is the atmosphere. My ideal bookstore would be fairly small, cozy. Bright enough to read but not glaring bright. Some chairs to sit in a moment and glance at a book. A helpful but not intrusive staff. And since I am dreaming, huge discounts!
Ok, I would actually be willing to sacrifice the huge discounts...or any at all...I think.

This is the BIG question of bookselling. Can you compete with Amazon? On price, no. Amazon can make the big deals with publishers because they have a huge volume and no little independent store will beat them on price. So should they just latch the door? I would argue no, that they can succeed, by offering something different, something people want that Amazon or even the Big Chain Stores can not offer. What that is will differ from local area to local area. I offer the example, in a different segment of retailing, of a local food store. They are a fraction in size of the nearby supermarkets and their price on many grocery items are higher, but they do a fantastic business. How? They have a great deli and do a very big lunch business, with sandwiches and hot dishes. They have a nice meat section...and you can actually talk to the butcher and make a special request. They have a nice section of prepared dishes, all wrapped and ready to go if you are in a big hurry. Fast, convenient.
They found a niche where they can excel and don't compete where they can't, but instead offer what the Big Guys don't.

But what is the difference. Aren't all books a thing of the past, an historical holdover of a past time? Soon we will all be downloading our books on to our white, shiny reading device and books will cease to exist. Right?
Over my cold, dead body..... :-)


  1. You make me laugh Caite! I refuse to believe that books will go away. There are too many of us out here to rebel. I have resisted the shiny reading device. I like the smell of a book, the feel of the cover and the pages. I do have a Borders around the corner and I do go there, with my coupons. I also buy books at Target, usually on a whim. But only because I don't have a readily accessible indie store to frequent. With this Monday Musing, I've decided that I need to dig a little harder, drive a little further and find an indie store. They have to be out there!

  2. I do love Amazon's prices..but I do sometimes feel I am consorting with the devil when I buy there. Not to mention their HUGE push for the shiny white reading device whose name we dare not speak.

    what to do...what to do...?

  3. loved your musings, especially the part about offering what the big guy can't. It makes me sad to see a small, customer friendly store go under.

  4. From the other Kaye, she of the "odd fascination with penguins". Yes, I did read that somewhere, Caite. You made me laugh though!

    At least you have bookstore choices near you. We do have a Borders 20 minutes away but it may as well be a Hallmark store as far as I am concerned. It's no wonder they are on the verge of bankruptcy. Then if I want to drive 40 minutes, I can go to B&N. It's not easy living in Podunk! It truly is a tragedy when small stores with wonderful customer service go the way of the dodo. ( a bird with which I have absolutely NO fascination.) Lol!

  5. look! two Kayes!

    always matter what their odd fascinations. ;-)

    Maybe I am a little harsh in my judgment on Borders. But not as harsh it seems as some

  6. I agree with Sandy-- there are too many bibliophiles around to let the bookstore die out. I do order from Amazon occasionally, but I'm mad at them for promoting the new Kindle. Call me crazy,but I like books. Real books. Paper. the smell. the spine. Mmmh.

    Maybe this makes me a sell-out...but I love Barnes & Noble. Love is a bit of an understatement actually; the past two years I've given up B&N for Lent because it is just that addicting. I love the giant chairs to curl up in. I love easy access to tea and tasty treats. I love sitting for hours without any fear of someone coming to bother me.

    ...can't wait for Easter!

  7. I could say I gave up Amazon for Lent...except I just placed an order.

  8. i reckon that must be the famed TILTON MARKET. i always dream about the meat section. yum!!

    my mom likes barnes and noble but that is only because it is really close. walmart and sams are her choice for CHEAP books, and anything obscure - well, there's always amazon.

  9. We have all the big chains here, plus a so-so indie. I don't buy books from amazon - I want to look at them and have them that moment - I'm not very patient.

  10. yes Bandit...Tilton Market. I will get you a nice bone from there when you come home for the summer...or a steak.

    Kathy, I am cheaper than I am impatient. :-)

  11. I agree about Borders. My tiny local indie seems to gave a wider range than a 2-level Borders!

  12. I'm with you! You should have heard hubby everytime I would bring more books out when we were packing. It just wouldn't be the same with the device and besides that I'm sure reading off a screen would hurt my eyes.

  13. Being a patron of local bookstores for many years, I am not used to waiting for my packages to arrive in the mail. I have made a few online purchases (usually rare books) but the experience of holding a book in my hand, thumbing through the pages, and picking books off the shelf is simply irreplacable.

  14. Well, with the shiny white reading device, you can download and have your books in seconds. No waiting at all! And then 'thumb' through the just pushing that little button.

    See Matt, you are spoiled by having bookstores that actually have the books you want. If I have to order it anyhoo, I might as well order it online and save the money.


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