The fabulous Laura Bradford (one of our fabulous stiletto wearers) and I had the opportunity to do a book signing at a local independent bookstore here in the Hudson Valley. The bookstore is tucked into a strip of independently owned stores on a lovely street in a town not far from here, and is a genuine friend to the local—and not so local—writer. Every time I’ve asked the owners if I can sign has been met with a resounding “yes” and they do everything they can to get people into the store to turn new readers on to authors they may not know or have heard of previously.
Business was brisk this past Saturday and I was happy to see that even though I’m sure Saturday is the busiest day for a lot of local retailers with weekdays being more stress-inducing in their quietude. I worry a lot about the state of the brick-and-mortar stores, particularly independents, but even my local Barnes and Noble where I can be found laden down with purchases when I’m up at the big strip mall north of here. But is the next generation that we’re raising full of the same love of the bookstore or will they be inured to the pleasures of holding a book in their hands, flipping through the pages, looking at the cover?
First, our local Borders went out of business, then two independents in nearby towns. As someone posted online, it is a lot more fun to take your kids to a bookstore than to show them a book on a computer screen. It is definitely more enjoyable to hold a book in your hand, or see the cover in person, than to move it from its place online to your virtual shopping cart. In my opinion, anyway. Are we slowly losing the ability to do that?
I logged on to Facebook today to see that several of my literary-minded friends had posted that Barnes and Noble is planning on closing at least twenty stores this year with the goal being to bring their approximately 680 stories down to 450 to 500 over time. I wondered if this would be a boon to the independents, the bookstore owners fighting the good fight all these years against the big-box stores and online retailers or if it spells the end of the bookstore ultimately.
I’m a book person; always have been. Although I now own a Kindle and download my fair share of books, I still buy books by the dozens every year. My family is the same way. There is no feeling like bringing home a bag of books, a feeling that trumps and Amazon or B&N box arriving on your front steps. When I go out of town, I shop in bookstores, I go to libraries. I know a lot of you are the same way.
So, I wonder about the future of bookstores, big and small, but to be honest, I am more in fear for the smaller bookstores in our little villages and towns, the ones where the owner knows your name, what you like to read, if your favorite author has a new book coming out that you should know about. Let’s all do our part to keep our indies alive, and books on shelves where we can touch them and peruse them and admire their beautiful covers, one and all.