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“I have no luddite prejudice against new technology; it’s just that books look as if they contain knowledge, while e-readers look as if they contain information.”
- Julian Barnes writes about his life as a bibliophile, and explains why books and booksellers will be just fine.
“Lord! When you sell a man a book you don’t sell him just twelve ounces of paper and ink and glue--you sell him a whole new life. Love and friendship and humour and ships at sea by night--there’s all heaven and earth in a book, in a real book I mean.”—Christopher Morley, Parnassus on Wheels. Epigraph from The Storytelling Animal by Jonathan Gottschall
Booksellers Discuss The Present And The Future Of Books ! http://newish.info/93454-booksellers-discuss-the-present-and-the-future-of-books
“A few miles down the road from where I live on the coast of Maine, a talented young bookseller named Lacy Simons recently opened a small bookshop called Hello Hello, and in her blog she wrote eloquently about her relationship to “everyone who comes in my store. If you let me, I’ll get to know you through your reading life and strive to find books that resonate with you. Amazon asks you to take advantage of my knowledge & my education (which I’m still paying for) and treat the space I rent, the heat & light I pay for, the insurance policies I need to be here, the sales tax I gather for the state, the gathering place I offer, the books and book culture I believe in so much that I’ve wagered everything on it” as if it were “a showroom for goods you can just get more cheaply through them.”
This is from a recent NY Times article by author Richard Russo describing how Amazon made a slight boo-boo, by encouraging customers to do its dirty work and scan books with its new price comparison app.
It hurts to read because Lacy, the bookseller, is aware enough to describe her bookstore in terms of the experience it provides, which we still value. (I’ve been reading The Experience Economy. It’s fab.)
When it comes to goods, we’re not nearly as sympathetic to the local guy. Using a smartphone to scan goods (like office supplies) and then buying them from Walmart hurts those merchants just as much as Lacy is hurt by Amazon, and it somehow doesn’t feel as… wrong.
They’re both local businesses, but book buying means something. Shopping for stickers at the stationery store? Not as much. So it isn’t the local aspect that makes Richard Russo’s piece sting, it’s the uniqueness of the book-buying experience.
The greater access to information that enables instant price-checking, as one example, is a force that will keep degrading all stores, book and non-book, into repositories for mere “goods”, in the consumer’s mind — to be examined at Lacy’s but purchased somewhere else for a few dollars less.
For local companies that can’t solely compete on price, the only way to fight that dynamic is with a badass, sticky in-store experience.
Whole Foods gets it.
Interior designers do. Ikea does. Furniture stores? Less so.