Monday during class we heard from Sheila Burns, co-owner of Bloomsbury Books. I thought it provided a really interesting insight into the world of a small independent bookstore and how they are being affected by the rapid changes in the publishing industry. I thought it was particularly interesting the change she discussed in her dealings with publishing companies. Before Amazon, she would meet with hundred of people from different companies showing her their products. Now, she typically only deals with the “Big Six”. How can a small independently run bookstore compete in a world where six publishing firms dominant all avenues of business? How can they then even begin to think about also taking on Amazon?
The answers I got out of our discussion really boiled down to culture. People enjoy bookstores, people enjoy supporting their local economy, and people enjoy having a social hub center to go and hear authors speak and be able to interact with them. However, I’m not entirely convinced this will be enough to save them.
I think that Burns also illustrated how key it is for a bookstore to be able to adapt to these uncertain times. Being able to supplement bookstore use by attaching a coffee shop, having intriguing speakers, and keeping your stock supply relatively low are all things that can help (and do, as Bloomsbury’s shows) a smaller bookstore stay afloat in today’s increasing digital lifestyle.