Go Read This | The Book is Dead! Long Live the Book

Om is right AND wrong here. Yes the message is way more important than the medium, but there’s a real danger that in letting bookstores go we eliminate a whole raft of positive externalities.

The New York Times has been chronicling the trials and tribulations of Barnes & Noble, and in one of the pieces, the paper (which itself is on the receiving end of the digital whip) laments the loss of the traditional book-buying experience. Industry insiders are worried that as the stores die, books and the discovery of books are going to suffer, and as a result, book sales are going to take a nosedive. These arguments are no different from some of the hand-wringing over the shuttering of record stores.

Every time I walk down Broadway in New York, I see the shuttered space that once housed Tower Records, which was chock-full of musical goodness. I look at it wistfully, shake my head, walk on, and a few minutes later, when fancy strikes, I download the latest remix of Bad Boy Bass by Gaudi. I guess I’m one of those who believe that the message is more important than the medium.

via The Book is Dead! Long Live the Book.

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4 comments

  1. I agree with your introductory sentence to the quote. So how do we communicate the “raft of positive externalities” to everyone? Every time I see it done the author/group/reader comes off sounding overly gushy/romantic/nostalgic. There are positives to having “boots on the ground” and it will be too late before the communities notice. I just haven’t found a solid way to present that fact without sounding outmoded.

    1. It’s funny, I think indie bookstores do it every day they survive.

      It’s that boots on the ground effect that really needs to be maintained. Both for the space it creates dedicated to stories, real and imagined, and the space it creates to display goods that are for sale.

      How to get it across?I’m not sure it matters if we can or not, they may fail regardless!
      Eoin

  2. To me it feels like the small bookstore really is a dying breed. I may be wrong but the big waterstones type stores seem to be doing fine, but there are fewer and fewer small independant bookshops – at least thats the way it seems to me. It will probably continue going that way. Sad really

    1. Hard to know for sure but at least three indie stores opened in the last few years in Dublin that I know of, Gutter bookshop, Raven Books and Company of Books.

      Then there are all those discount stores, must be about ten of them in the city centre at the moment.

      The large stores have their own problems too. I reckon they are in greater danger because aside from just the store overhead, their profits must cover corporate overhead as well.

      Eoin

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