“Did We Do Anything Wrong?”
These and dozens more were wonderful, literate people who read books and were wide-ranging conversationalists. I was a drinking member in good standing of the Association of Book Travelers (founded in 1884). We’d bump into each other in different towns and connect for dinner and an occasional poker game. I loved it!
Alas Bookstores—the Most Fragile of Businesses—Are Dying
Not so very long ago, bookstores—along with public, college and school libraries―were the intellectual glue that held communities together.
But the ease of ordering from Amazon.com has revolutionized book buying. E-books are supplanting their printed forebears. The Internet, TV, a mobile lifestyle and a plague of poor attention spans and illiteracy has resulted in per capita book consumption being down dramatically. Bookstores are becoming vestigial.
B. Dalton’s 798 retail stores are defunct. Borders is on the skids—down to 507 retail outlets, down from 1,000 in May 2009—with its stock at an anemic 85¢, down from a 2003 high of $23.66.
Barnes & Noble, which announced that it was for sale last August, is using its 1,300 outlets to flog its e-reader. Its stock is $16.81, down two-thirds from its 2006 high. And as Martin Peers wrote in The Wall Street Journal, “The big question is whether B&N will close stores fast enough as physical book sales shrink.”
If the giant chains are on the ropes, the situation for small independent bookstores is dire. Four hundred closed last year. Among them:
Cornerstone Books (Salem, MA); Readers' World (South Muskoka, Canada); The Know Bookstore (Durham, NH); Bookworm Independent Bookstore (West Hartford, CT); Karibu (Arlington, VA); Toronto Women's Bookstore (Toronto, Canada); The Book Room (Halifax, Canada); Jay's Book Stall (Pittsburgh, PA); Oscar Wilde Bookshop (New York, NY); Book & Brier Patch (Saskatchewan, Canada); McNally-Robinson (Toronto, Canada); Good Yarns (Hastings-on-Hudson, NY); Open Book (Greenville, SC); Sophia Books (Vancouver, Canada); Volume II Books (Edmonton, Canada); Love Saves the Day (NY, NY); Urban Think! (Orlando, FL); La Moderna Poesía (Miami, FL); Duthie Books (Vancouver, Canada); Red Raven Books (Sandusky, OH); McNally Robinson Polo Park (Winnipeg, Canada); Berean Book (Central Illinois); Dutton's (Los Angeles, CA); Librairie de France (NY, NY); Conkey's (Appleton, WI); Bellevue's Confluence Bookstore (Omaha, NE); Romantically Inclined (Riverside, CA); The Open Book (Greenville, SC); Joseph-Beth Booksellers (Pittsburgh, PA); Rock Point Books (Chattanooga, TN); Cody's (Berkeley, CA); Black Oak (Berkeley, CA).