“Did We Do Anything Wrong?”
I remember hearing the story of a small town bookstore in the Northeast that scraped by to stay afloat for years. The woman who owned it had instituted a children’s reading program, hosted book signings and invited authors to do readings. It was a hotbed of community activity. Then at one book signing, when customers were waiting—books in hand—to meet the author and get an autograph, the store owner overheard a woman in line say quietly to another, “Actually, I got my copy at Amazon. It was so much cheaper.”
To the woman who owned the store, it was a final punch in the gut. She said the hell with it, shuttered the business and the town was all the poorer for it.
Nick Bilton’s Transgression
A new book is a beautiful thing—the color, the smell, the promise of meeting new people, becoming enraptured by a multifaceted story and enlarging our world view.
All books in a bookstore are there on consignment. Yes, the store buys them, but it has unlimited return privileges. This means that the publisher owns every book until it is actually sold to a retail customer. It is imperative that books in bookstores be treated with TLC, so that when they are returned (and 40 percent of all books are sent back to the publisher) they will be in pristine shape to send out to another store or a mail order customer.
From Nick Bilton’s Lede:
My wife and I sat cross-legged on the floor of a local Barnes & Noble store recently, surrounded by several large piles of books. We were searching for interior design ideas for a new home that we are planning to buy.
As we lobbed the books back and forth, sharing kitchen layouts and hardwood floor textures, we snapped a dozen pictures of book pages with our iPhones. We wanted to share them later with our contractor.