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Dutton’s is out and Borders is…what?

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?


9 thoughts on “Dutton’s is out and Borders is…what?

  1. I love the little bookstores, but I have to admit the big chains are convenient– and cheaper.

    E-Books are fun, and nice to have when the real book is heavy and you’re reading in a cramped space– like on the bus.

    I still am holding onto hope that those little stores will find their niche and a successful way to market it. There’s still a lot of interest in literature, and we need to take any opportunity we can to be a little bit louder about it.

    Posted by Gretchen Bourquin | 16 May, 2008, 4:22 pm
  2. I plan on keeping my reading and shopping habits just as they are for as long as possible.

    Sadly, there aren’t a lot of little bookstores in my area, so I get a lot of my books from Amazon. I’m usually all about supporting local businesses, but in the absence of that I turn to what’ll save me the most money.

    I can’t fathom reading an entire book on some kind of e-reader. They’ll have to pry my books out of my cold, dead hands.

    Posted by Pseudonym | 19 June, 2008, 2:19 am
  3. Ha! Don’t worry: I doubt books will ever go away completely!

    Posted by draabe | 20 June, 2008, 3:28 am
  4. I completely lament with you on the loss of so many independant stores. I fear the day when my grandkids come to me in some sort of e-glasses, having a book acted out for them on the inner shades instead of enjoying the words.

    But I doubt they will ever fade out. I feel lucky in NY to see people with their books in hand on the subway and the people on the street selling tattered paperbacks-its hard not to wax poetic, but it reminds you of everyone’s commonality.

    Posted by larkny | 20 June, 2008, 4:40 am
  5. I don’t know. I don’t know. I don’t know. Change is inevitable.
    I know I’ll from time to time look to see what Diane Raabe is writing about.
    Please do not share and or sell my name, mail or website with anyone or with any organization.

    Posted by weak reader | 25 June, 2008, 10:55 pm
  6. I would never share or sell names or websites. Thank you so much for bringing that up! It’s an important thing to let everyone know.

    Posted by draabe | 26 June, 2008, 12:58 pm
  7. I actually work at a large bookstore and I see it all first hand. The ridiculous prices, the fact that we don’t just sell books we sell homewares and if you’re looking for a book that isn’t current or a book that isn’t in popular demand, you’re probably going to have to order it, or it might just not be in our system.
    It’s sad really. Which is why I buy a lot of my books second hand. I absolutely love used book stores.
    Also, I’m never ever going to replace e-books with real books. I love my gigantic pile of books! I love that I leave them lying around and everyone can just poke around my book piles to see into my inner soul. Really. Not kidding!
    I do think it’s important that books are published and printed in an environmental way though. If all books were printed on recycled paper that would lovely.

    Posted by Steph | 26 June, 2008, 7:50 pm
  8. I, too, was saddened by the loss of Dutton’s. I was just at the Santa Barbara Writer’s Conference and one of the workshops was discussing the digitalization of books. It’s hard to say right now how it will go. I personally can’t read more than a few pages’ worth online, but I know plenty of people who solely read online…

    Posted by Riley | 28 June, 2008, 1:03 am
  9. Just e-books? I dunno…what about the bookstore smell? I love the scent of paper and ink and I just love, love, love the feel of flipping pages.

    Posted by bluelyon | 2 July, 2008, 3:27 am

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