Saturday, March 12, 2011

Thought: Bookstores

"As paper books become a niche product, niche retailers will be the best place to buy and sell them. Book lovers will always want a place to gather and hear recommendations from a bookseller who knows their reading habits, and their community. . . we may have to go back to shopping for books in stores that let dogs wander through the stacks, and don't even serve coffee."
-Edward McClelland, 'How Borders Lost Its Soul,'

While McClelland's piece very much looks back, Jack McKeown and Don Linn look forward at the "supply gap" resulting from the Borders closures in an essay at InVerso. They propose the development of a Neighborhood Bookstore Development Bank, "modeled after a similar initiative that has worked successfully for independent grocery stores. Its mission would be to spearhead the deployment of capital to a new generation of bookstore entrepreneurs, as well as existing booksellers looking to branch out or upgrade their spaces."

From a 2009 piece by Jack McKeown: "A thriving neighborhood bookstore is recognized as a key element in the social, cultural and economic fabric of any community. This is an opinion widely shared by urban planners, government planning boards, Smart Growth advocates, landlords and real estate developers around the country."

I went to see Andre Schiffrin speak at The New School last fall as part of a series of discussions sponsored by n+1. He shared the view of McKeown and Linn, asking the audience if they needed a Duane Reade on every corner, and said, "It's a question of preserving urban civilization."

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