The title of the article is Why it’s important for communities to have bookstores. And I was doing the metaphorical fist pump and going, “YES!” and all the other stuff in support of the idea. Of course all communities should have a bookstore. It enriches the intellectual life of the community, and helps broaden people’s world view. And just plain provides enjoyment. And so on, and so on.
And then I started reading the article and realized, Tess Vigeland the interviewer and Ann Pratchett the author aren’t just talking about a “community” — like your local neighbourhood. They’re talking about the entire city of Nashville. Seriously?? In the whole city, there are no bookstores??
I think that has to be an exaggeration. But this does point up the worrisome trend of closing bookstores. Not all people have e-readers, nor will all people get them. (My mom never will, I know that. Most of my relatives never will. They simply can’t afford them.) So what happens to those people, without the chance to nip in and buy a $10 book on the rare occasions they can afford one?
Ann Pratchett wants to improve the situation in Nashville and is actually opening a new independent bookstore with a partner. Bless her for that, and what a fortunate community!
She also has an interesting idea that turns things on their head. So far, the accepted wisdom has been that the big box bookstores or chains were gradually killing smaller, independent stores. And now the big chains are threatened, because of e-books. But Pratchett thinks that the smaller independent bookstores — the actual, physical, bricks-and-mortar bookstores with actual paper books — will in fact be the ones that do survive, after the big chains are gone and ebooks are the big thing with Amazon and big publishers.
The more I think about it, the more I think she could turn out to be right. And I like that idea very much. The smaller stores might just have the wherewithal to go on and thrive, while the bloated chains do not.
What do you think?