Independent Book Stores

Three recent articles of interest regarding bookstores:

First an article about the people responsible for opening new independent book stores at a time when the independent book store is is said to be on it’s death bed:
‘We’re not in it for the money’ The number of independent bookstores has been steadly growing. But will they survive? — By Teresa Méndez in the Christian Science Monitor.

Part of what these stores – and the larger independent community – are working to do is find a niche, a way to create an experience the warehouse-size stores cannot, whether through knowledgeable handselling, hosting author and community events, or carrying a particular genre.

Following up on the news of the 98 new independent bookstores in the country, some advice to keep the independent bookstore alive:

Wicked Witch of Publishing Takes Over Pretend Independent Bookstore. Will She Thrive—or Just Survive? — By Lynne W. Scanlon in The Publishing Contrarian.

Where do I find the mass grave of the 2500 bookstores that went out of business between 1990 and 2006? I want to stand beside it and bid adieu to Murder Ink, Coliseum Books and Micawber Books—bookstores-turned-white-elephants that have recently succumbed at the ages of 34, 32, and 26, respectively—as their corpses are tossed on top of the bones of their erstwhile predecessors. Then I want to grab the owners of the 97 new independent bookstores that arrived on the scene in 2006 by the scruff of the neck, drag them to the edge of the grave and scream: “Don’t make the same mistakes these guys did.”

Finally, an article on bringing bookstore ideas into the library, albeit ideas from chain bookstores. I’d love to see an independent bookstore-inspired library. The smell of pathcouli would be as strong as the voices of the prophets of doom.

What libraries can learn from bookstores: Applying bookstore design to public libraries — By Chris Rippel in

Crosstraining would benefit libraries. Training circulation and reference staff in the mysteries of interlibrary loan would increase their ability to answer questions and advise patrons about the interlibrary loan process. Crosstraining catalogers and reference staff could produce better cataloging for use by reference staff and improve reference staff’s understanding of the access provided by cataloging.

This quote speaks to a constant struggle at my own library. We’re constantly in trouble when “the expert” is not around, but on the other hand when everyone is cross-trained it’s hard for each individual to keep track of all that information and overall service is watered down. Quite a conundrum.

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