Thursday, February 07, 2008

and then the sun comes out....

and all's right with the world.
As I've said, I'm going to try to stay positive, but when others point out the glaringly obvious, suddenly I feel like an idiot.
I've read much of the narrative in the last few years around the challenges in the trade, and I've come to believe some of the negativity, the generation that doesn't read anymore, the dominance of Amazon and the chain stores, books are too expensive blah, blah, blah...
Then the Written Nerd comes along and finds something that makes the whole mindset sound completely nonsensical.
Her "rant" is spot on and she's had a hell of a month, so she knows a thing or two.

"When a restaurant closes, it doesn't usually occur to anyone to say, "well, that's because people just don't go to restaurants to eat anymore," or "this just reflects the sad decline of the food industry, and we should all be better people and go out to eat more." More likely, their comments reflect on what might have caused the failure of this specific business: a less-than-prime location, poor business planning, sub-par service, unexciting food, or just bad luck. Yes, everyone knows that lots of restaurants close -- but lots also open. Success and failure happen on the individual business level, not on the industry level -- there's no shortage of restaurants, and many still provide wonderful experiences while remaining profitable ventures.So why, I ask you, is it that whenever a bookstore closes, it's because bookstores are a thing of the past, and no one buys books or read anymore, and those who do buy their books online, and if we were all better people we would support those quaint indie stores (whether or not they're doing a good job)? And why, when a new bookstore opens, is it seen as a wonderfully naive venture, suitable for Don Quixotes or those who have money to "prop up" such a business? And why, when a bookstore is successful and has been around for 3, 10, 30 years, is it always a surprising exception to an otherwise sad state of affairs?"

This comes from a reporter asking The Nerd why she'd open a bookstore in Brooklyn, "when everybody knows independent bookstores are on the decline."
I really did buy into a lot of the death rattle on this, despite seeing our place continue to thrive.
It's nice to be reminded that my stacking diet books at a Wal-Mart somewhere isn't necessarily an inevitability, or that the novel becomes something that only James Patterson writes.

The preceding paragraph doesn't reverse any concerns I have around the future, and it's still a tough time for independent retail of any stripe, but Jesus, I feel better.

Posted by Dave

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