Back to the Future
|Will we need one of these to visit bookstores?|
As I was reading his article, I noticed a link to something called The Kepler 2020 Project. This project, started by Kepler's Books in Menlo Park, is redefining the future of the indie bookstore. They cite a statistic that recent years have seen the closing of 75% of indie bookstores in the US. Add to that the closing of big box stores and things aren't looking too great. However, the folks at Kepler are joining with many brilliant minds in the bookstore world because they think that there is a future for the small bookstores. What is that vision? What does a future bookstore look like? They aren't sure yet, but they know that there are possibilities.
One argument I have heard over and over again is that a brick and mortar store offers a community space that online retailers can't offer. You can see your favorite author at a real store, you can talk to a bookseller about good book recommendations, you can take classes, etc. A good friend of mine actually suggested we start a bookstore/bar and even though I think it was a joke I think he was on to something. (If it works with coffee, why not beer?) I love a good bar where I can enjoy quality drinks and great conversations. Why not add books to the menu? In fact, there is a bookstore in the Washington DC area, Kramersbooks & Afterwards that has a full bar.
This model extends to other businesses as well. Right here in Cambridge, MA there is a year-old craft store called gather here where the owner not only offers craft supplies but a variety of classes as well. These range from skirt making to Etsy 101. Virginia, the owner, is clearly thinking about how to incorporate community gatherings into her shop. Not only does she offer classes, there are many free events. Pints N Purls, an every-other-weekly free gathering for folks to knit and sip on a drink, and Handcrafters Brunch, another every-other-week event inviting knitters, crafters, etc to bring a brunch-y snack and work together, encourage folks to support the store and each other. Maybe the solution to small business is creating a tight-knit community (ok, sorry, just had to go there!)
|Found this Meetup Group from ON. A perfect match?|
If you check the websites for bookstores that are not only still in business, but are also thriving, you will see that they have a wide variety of classes, meetings, events, and usually some type of food service available. In addition to creating a diverse community space, I think one of the biggest questions on the table is what to do about e-readers, online services, apps, etc. I know this has all been on my mind as I contemplate a future as a bookseller.
The Kepler 2020 Project mentioned above is hosting a conference today and tomorrow in Menlo Park. Sadly, I found out about this just about 20 minutes ago so I can't make it. I am anxious to hear what comes of this conference and I would love to jump in on the conversation. I always imagined that Alice, Ever After would be a bookstore ready to take on the challenges presented to indies and also help create a new model for what a bookstore could be. I mean, if Wonderland offered Alice an endless world of possibilities, shouldn't a bookstore named after her do the same?
What are your thoughts? Would you support a local bookstore instead of an online service if it meant keeping real sellers in business? Are you ready to abandon the cheap and easy Amazon or is there a compromise between online sellers and indie stores in our future? Is it all about creating community?
Post a Comment