In the beginning, there were bookstores – lots and lots of little independently owned shops like the one in the movie “You’ve Got Mail.” Small, struggling, personal.
Then came Crown Books, edging out these local gems by crushing them with cut-rate pricing. Some of the independents succumbed to the pressure and folded.
However, the lower prices couldn’t sustain Crown Books…so they went the way of the dinosaurs, quickly replaced by other behemoths like Borders and Barnes & Noble. More of the little stores were lost in the shuffle.
Then there was Amazon. Internet-driven. No brick-and-mortar overhead costs. Millions of titles – substantially more than could be stocked on the shelves of even the biggest store. Easy access. Enticing.
Fewer and fewer independent bookstores survived the onslaught. Borders caved. Barnes & Noble launched an on-line store to compete – but many of their shops folded anyway, leaving whole neighborhoods bereft of a clean, well-lighted place for books. The book-browsing experience became an ancient ritual available only in the anonymous and non-personal on-line venue.
Amidst the rubble Amazon wrought, some of the little neighborhood gems have survived. They are different now – even smaller in some cases, lean even in the good years. Some combine used books with their offerings. Some work with local authors on exciting new programs (like Hicklebee’s in San Jose, CA – see the link below). They are different, but they are there – proving that might isn’t right for the book lovers of the world.
Image above licensed from Dreamstime.com