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Amazon vs Independent Book Stores

 
 
ossobuco
 
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Reply Mon 28 Jul, 2003 12:40 pm
I love my used bookstore for a lot of reasons, not least the element of surprise. This week's find is a small book about a wonderful piano shop in the Left Bank area of Paris. I am a musical dolt (although I love it) and find the book unfolds .... rather like a complex piece of music. This is a book I never would have thought of to order online. I gave a link for it in the What books are you reading now? topic - you can find it at A2K's Amazon link on the Control Panel page (The Piano Shop on the Left Bank, Tadd Carhart).

And I love that store because they know me. And because there is a nice cafe/bakery next door where I can walk in with my new bag of books and have a coffee before doing other errands...while savoring my big-bag-full.

I know how hard it is to keep a bookstore going and I am still attracted to having one. But I think it would be suicidal in a town as small as I live in...that it would have more chance of success in at least a suburb of a large city.
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Dartagnan
 
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Reply Thu 31 Jul, 2003 10:41 am
It has also been my dream to have a small book store, ossobuco, but at this point it doesn't seem too realistic. A bit like opening a corner market a few blocks from a Safeway. Such is the impact of Amazon and Barnes & Noble.

I suspect most of the successful independent stores are either perfectly situated, rather large, occupy a niche market (e.g., mysteries) or owned by someone who has other sources of income...
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ossobuco
 
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Reply Thu 31 Jul, 2003 11:15 am
Other sources of income, there we go...
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Tartarin
 
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Reply Thu 31 Jul, 2003 11:33 am
Darn -- how close did I come last night to winning an after-tax $18,800,000 prize in the Texas Lottery! And I would have funded an independent bookstore, as long as it was also online... With a chat group... And a link to Peet's.
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Dartagnan
 
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Reply Thu 31 Jul, 2003 11:37 am
Those sound like great ways to spend some of your lottery winnings, Tartarin! I'm sure there'd be some $$ left for political causes, too.

Too bad most actual winners blow it on bigger houses and vehicles...
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Tartarin
 
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Reply Thu 31 Jul, 2003 12:46 pm
T' hell with politics, D'art -- let's just fund that bookstore (I'll provide the bucks and needle you a little about the format of the website). You can become a deliberate obscure, greyish person of charming manners, great knowledge, and some of the best books ever printed, old and new. And the link to Peet's. Let's see -- $2M enough?
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Tartarin
 
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Reply Thu 31 Jul, 2003 12:47 pm
Perhaps Osso could have a tiny gallery there, or adjacent?
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Dartagnan
 
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Reply Thu 31 Jul, 2003 12:59 pm
You're on, Tartarin! Ensconced in an obscure bookstore with no financial worries -- sounds ideal.

I wouldn't even mind helping the customers who say, "There was this book, I can't remember the title, but I think it was on Oprah..." (I've worked in bookstores....)
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TerryDoolittle
 
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Reply Thu 31 Jul, 2003 04:35 pm
I must say that I'm guilty of that one...<hanging head in shame>....not the Oprah part, though.
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Dartagnan
 
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Reply Thu 31 Jul, 2003 04:45 pm
Well, Terry, it's not a crime. It just can be tough when you work in a little bookstore and you know the customer would be better off at Barnes & Noble...
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ossobuco
 
  1  
Reply Thu 31 Jul, 2003 09:42 pm
Oh, I'd want a fair sized nook of shelves in the bookstore, y'know. But in trade, I'd be willing to spend many hours in the place....hmmm, can I do a little baking in the back?
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ehBeth
 
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Reply Sat 2 Aug, 2003 04:22 pm
manoman - it is wonderful being back in my hometown - independent book shops all round - a couple of chains that aren't doing too well here - the Indigo which does well, but is out in the township, so doesn't interfere with my mood. I love being here for the books. It's a bit dangerous.
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Dartagnan
 
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Reply Sun 3 Aug, 2003 06:11 pm
Luckily, Seattle is big enough for some really good indendent stores to survive. Not as many as there were, of course. I can't remember, ehBeth, do you live in Toronto? I'm assuming you must live in a city to have access to good bookshops...
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ehBeth
 
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Reply Tue 5 Aug, 2003 02:22 pm
D'Artagnan, I do live in Toronto - and there are many dangerous independent book stores here, as well as a lovely small chain (3 or 4 stores). The big chains are here as well, but not as important a presence as they seem to be in the U.S.

My hometown is at the other end of Lake Ontario - an old, limestone University town - chains just don't seem to have what it takes to make a dent in the souls and wallets of people there. Robertson Davies wrote about the town in the Salterton Trilogy. His nephew ran one of Canada's last truly independent newspapers there until about a decade ago. We were proud of our Whig-Standard.
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Tartarin
 
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Reply Tue 5 Aug, 2003 03:01 pm
EhBeth -- Your post makes me wish there were a thread in which people could describe their places -- home places, new places, whatever. (I was born on the other side of the same lake BTW.)
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Dartagnan
 
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Reply Tue 5 Aug, 2003 03:22 pm
A place immune to the onslaught of chains. That's great, ehBeth! Perhaps being in Canada helps in this regard, since most of the chains are American, and I know Canadians want to maintain their own national identity.

I sometimes fear that small-town American is a lost cause in this regard, with the internet, oddly enough, part of the problem. With access to big-city shopping via a computer, there's even less hope for anything smaller than WalMart these days...
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Tartarin
 
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Reply Tue 5 Aug, 2003 03:32 pm
My town is one of those places with many small chic (sort of!) shops that people drive to from all over, every day, to goggle and buy. And eat (also good restaurants). The gift and tourist trade may keep some small shops alive... The nearest mall is almost empty.
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Dartagnan
 
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Reply Tue 5 Aug, 2003 03:33 pm
Hearing about an empty mall brings joy to my heart, Tartarin! When I was in Tulsa recently, it was quite the opposite. Alas, it looked like the downtown was empty, apart from the office workers...
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Lightwizard
 
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Reply Fri 8 Aug, 2003 03:49 pm
There's a wonderful little book store (just under new ownership) on the water at Lido Marina Village, Newport Beach where they carry out-of-town and even foreign newspapers, and the owner and staff actually reads what it sells. I would usually pick up "Sight and Sound" magazine -- the British film review periodical there when I haven't subscribed. That's where I got my signed copy of Gore Vidal's book "Perpetual War for Perpetual Peace." So one can buy a book and go sit by the water with a glass of wine and enjoy the afternoon. Can't get that from Amazon although it has its place.
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ehBeth
 
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Reply Fri 8 Aug, 2003 10:44 pm
My friend B and I stopped by one of our independent book shops during our meanders at a street festival tonight. It was wonderful to be in there. Rummaging through the remainders ( i love them, even though it's bad news to the author ) - listening to people having political discussions - spotting a book i'd been looking for - finding a few i'd never heard of but wanted immediately and picked up. It was lovely.
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