Wednesday, February 16, 2011


So, let's see. Borders is filing for bankruptcy. Other large booksellers are struggling.

I wonder if the era of the mom and pop bookstore is actually about to return. When you can order any book in print and quite a few that aren't from Amazon and have it arrive on your doorstep, why go to a bookstore?

There has to be a reason other than to buy books. In the future, the small bookstore cafe, which focuses heavily on the cafe part, may come out the 'winner' in the bookstore evolutionary race. Yes, Borders and B&N tag on cafes to their stores, but they're exactly that. Tagged on. The bookstore cafe of the future needs to be equally both, not just offer a few kinds of coffee. Ideally, it should have a liquor license and transform itself into the bookstore bar when the sun goes down. It should have spoken word events and author readings almost every night. Maybe the occasional bit of live music. Poetry jams. Open mike nights. Children's reading hours in the afternoons after school.

You can't get people in the doors with 'We have books' any more. You have to offer a literary experience. And you have to offer the kind of expert, personalized assistance and recommendations that Amazon...and the big boxes...can't.

So, here's my prediction: Goodbye impersonal big box. Hello friendly bookseller.

And is that such a bad thing?