In the High Peaks

Thursday, August 18, 2011

The Demise of Bookselling (Your Opinions are Important!)

I am loath to broach these subjects, but because they've been dominating the conversations of my local book-loving friends, I thought I'd add a little fuel to the fire.

Our local debate has been prompted by the imminent departure of an indepenent bookseller in Glens Falls, the nearest "city" to my wilderness region (still 40 miles away). The owners have cited the poor economy and, especially, the unprecedented rise of e-book sales this past year, to their necessity to close their doors. I do sympathize. I hate to hear of booksellers going out of business.

But when this bookstore opened five years ago, I realized that its chances of survival were oh so slim. How did I know? Because, as a former bookseller in Boston, I had participated in and witnessed the loss of many beloved independent bookstores to the chain bookstores from 1995-2005. This Glens Falls bookstore had to compete with a Barnes and Noble store 15 minutes away from its doors. Their store was TINY, and had inadequate parking in a diminished, neglected downtown setting, where people don't shop anymore. It's a wonder they lasted five years before collapsing.

Please Consider: Many libraries (not all, mind you) and most brick-and-mortar chain bookstores are reporting that their circulation and sales are plummetting due to the rise of the e-book. Amazon recently claimed that the sale of Kindle e-books now surpasses their paperback sales.

So what is my position on all of these changes? And please share yours! As a book consumer for 40 years, I must say that book lovers must stop feeling guilty. The market forces driving all the changes in book publishing are bigger than any one of us. We cannot simultaneously hold onto the old world of bookselling while purchasing hard-copy books online and downloading our e-books. No way!

For myself, I desperately need and I over-abundantly use the resources of libraries. Viva Libraries! Please use them! For my personal purchases, and to satisfy my arcane and eclectic tastes, there is not a brick-and-mortar bookstore in the USA that can feed my needs and interests. I rely on the Amazon and Barnes and Noble websites to send me both hard-copy and e-books.

What are your thoughts? Is your library experiencing a decrease in circulation these days? Please ask your librarian and report your views on The State of Book Buying!


  1. I think it shocking how many shops are closing and loads libraries here in the uk ,all the best stu

  2. I'm always amazed at how few people there are using my own local library. A lot of people in my town haven't even been in it. You would think that in a recession they would want to use something which is free.
    I object to paying high prices for books especially considering most writers are paid very little for their hard work. Privately owned shops can't compete with big business.I prefer second-hand bookshops but they are thin on the ground now.