The heavy weight on my mind these days is that of the brick-and-mortar bookstore – and not just the small ones where you (used to) go to visit the owner as much as to buy books. The sad demise of the bookstore began long before the Amazon Kindle and the Sony Reader arrived on the scene. Who among us can remember the days when bookstores sold just books? Barnes & Noble stores didn’t always serve Starbucks, and Borders’ partnership with Seattle Coffee is relatively new, depending on your age.
Barely two weeks ago, Dutton’s Brentwood – possibly the best bookstore in Los Angeles – was closing its doors. The building which housed Dutton’s belongs to Charles Munger who plans to develop the property into something upscale – but Doug Dutton doesn’t fault Munger with the demise of the bookstore. It’s really about the industry in general.
As Dutton’s was closing, Borders was unveiling its new marketing strategy as it opened the first Borders “concept store” in National City, California. The concept is not a total switch to e-reading and audio downloads (books as well as music), but an expansion of choice. The new concept stores will house a “digital center” where customers can do everything from publish their own books to research their ancestry. (Don’t worry – the cappuccino will still be brewing.) The chainstore is in the process of selling off its international business and plans to open 14 of the digitally inclusive bookstores.
Obviously, you’ve got some electronic savvy – you’re reading a blog. But is a “digital” bookstore within your reading comfort zone? Is an author interview via satellite as engaging as a bookstore reading? If you’re like me, you continue to lament the loss of your favorite independent stores as they gradually fall by the wayside. But with the tenuous new concept stores coming to a mall near you, what will happen to your reading – and book shopping – habits?