Gina Barreca on Why Independent Bookstores Matter
Independent bookstores do everything big corporate bookstores do, with only one significant difference: Independents do it better.
Without independent bookstores -- meaning those places not owned by huge corporate chains or multinational conglomerates --there would be three, maybe four, books published a year.
There would be a blockbuster thriller, a densely detailed romance, a pseudo-science exploration of a catchy phenomena, and a celebrity bio.
And a diet book -- there would be a diet book.
So eventually, there would be one book issued per year: a densely detailed autobiographical and pseudo-scientific celebrity thriller containing recipes. Denzel Washington meets Stephen J. Gould meets Don Delillo meets The Naked Chef. Yum.
Without independent bookstores, those magnificent places which purchase books not by weight but by volume, there would be no great new authors to discover because no publisher would take a risk by publishing anything less than an instant bestseller.
Because places like Costco and Sam's Club also purchase books in bulk, these venues -- as well as the largest of the national chains -- pretty much decide what America will read.
Is it a wonder, then, that reading is down? That fewer people buy and read books for pleasure?