This morning, I came upon a blog post from the owner of Seattle Mystery Bookshop, an independent, mystery-focused bookstore that is closing its doors on September 30, 2017. Now, it’s no secret that independent bookstores are a disappearing breed, as much as all book lovers adore them (or, at least, adore the idea of them). On the one hand: they have personalities, they are personable, and they are chock-full of like-minded bibliophiles. On the other hand: they are more expensive, carry less in-house inventory, and can’t really compete with the conveniences of mass market bookstores and online booksellers.
Why the independents are failing is something the owner of Seattle Mystery Bookshop, who identifies as “JB” both in the post and on the store’s website, covers quite fully—and, in my opinion, quite accurately. Large bookstores are in hot waters of their own these days, and they have a lot more flexibility when it comes to every aspect of business. How is a small bookstore, especially one that caters to a specific submarket within the overall book market (say, the mystery genre) supposed to survive? It’s like JB says: “At one time, when this shop was young, there were at least three dozen independent mystery bookshops around the globe. NYC had four. DC had three. Now there are but a handful. It isn’t just us. I am dead certain that none of those that closed wanted to, but, in the end, there was no choice.”
So, take a look at JB’s post, and tell me: what do you think is the largest culprit in the death of independent bookstores? Is it Amazon? The so-called “Mega Stores,” who are paying their own piper these days? The rise of e-books and overall growth of media accessibility? The economy?
Is there any hope left for the little guy, or should we all welcome our new e-overlords?