Hans Weyandt from Micawber's in St. Paul, MN posted an essay today about his fears & concerns about the trouble that Borders (mostly) and B&N (sorta) find themselves in. It's good stuff – thoughtful writing and hopes for a more sustainable kind of bookselling from one of my favorite booksellers.
Here's a taste, but do click through for the whole post:
The trouble they are facing is one of scale and a model that never really was sustainable. Most, if not all, of the problems that plague the book industry are related to this. Why do so many books get remaindered? Because publishers, even small ones, are forced to print too many books in order to get good display or review attention. A really radical idea would be for a publisher to say, "We're going to print less. We'll re-print quickly, if needed, but we want to be realistic." They might even make money. Returns policies? They are, absolutely, as is because they are necessary for the chains to have stacks of fifty copies of every celebrity book out there. Because to actually pay for those piles--that would be tough.
The book business is sick and everyone in it is feeling it in some form. Long ago I gave up hating the chains because it didn't do me or anyone else any good. I didn't want to be one of those 'High-Fidelity'-esque guys. It's ugly. So I don't look forward to a day when I read about Borders closing or declaring bankrupcty (which, depending on who you listen to, is coming any day. Or not at all.) I don't want more people to lose their jobs. About 1% of people who work in books are in it for the money and the rest of us are all here for the same reason and that reason is our love of books and reading. That's me, the guy working at the anarchist book collective and the semi-retired woman working at Borders. I don't want my friends who work for and run small publishers to get stuck holding a bill that is never going to be paid.
[Read it at Mr. Micawber Enters The Internets.]
FURTHER READING & RESEARCH: