Booksellers Falling? The answer is in Al Capone’s vault.

An article today at Alternet about Why Booksellers Are Going Belly Up.  The article is largely a puff piece, with a whole lot of pontificating about 60’s liberal hippies and the failure of the capitalist state to carve out a little nook for the bookstore.  There’s little examination of the independent v. chain store models, though some blame is laid on the decision of some independents (Peet’s is given as an example) to become chain stores.  Why?  Because you lose cred if there’s more than one bookstore with the name?  If a bookseller makes a business decision that will allow him/her to sell more books to more people, how exactly is that bad?  It’s bad if it fails, but that is a risk of business, isn’t it?  We also get some examination of the loss of the statement as a status symbol a book can make, with the author pointing to the good ole days when reading The Monkey Wrench Gang while thoughtfully stroking your goatee was a sign of intense coolness; apparently, the book has ceded this position to technology, which means you should put down Black Swan Green because a Blackberry is more likely to get you laid.

The article is written as though the author was trying to reach a certain word count, which is too bad, because it’s a good topic.  There are some interesting statistics, though – 1 in 2 Americans buy one book a year.  (What exactly this means is confusing – does that mean that fewer than 1 in 2 buy more than one book a year?  At any rate, it sounds bad, so in it goes.)  Certainly bad is the figure of 14% illiteracy in our country, which is sickening.  (Click here every day – free – to do something about it.) 

There isn’t a lot in the article that my sarcastic summary here doesn’t cover, but it’s worth a read anyway, if only to prime you for the comments section.  Around 60 comments and counting; some of it with interesting points that the article missed.


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