Even after a robust holiday sales season, independent bookstore owners across the country continue to close their doors as Amazon and e-readers lure more and more readers away from their local shops. Authors, booksellers, librarians and publishers continue to debate how best to support a diverse, competitive retail book community in a tough economic climate.
Newton Bookshop in Newton, Pennsylvania recently announced its impending closure in an e-mail to customers. Last year, owner Christine Godshall had said that the store was “at a crossroads. With the struggling economy and the rise of e-books, sales are down significantly. In spite of having many regular loyal customers and successful events, we may have to make some very difficult choices in January” (Shelf Awareness).
She encouraged customers to take their business to other independent bookstores, and if they decide to buy an e-reader, to get “anything but a Kindle.” Some alternative e-readers include the Nook from Barnes & Noble, the Sony E-Reader, and the Samsung Papyrus.
Other independent bookstores that have closed recently or are for sale include:
Blue Elephant Bookshop, Decatur, Georgia
Edgartown Books, Edgardtown, Massachusetts
Outwrite Bookstore, Atlanta, Georgia
R.J. Julia Booksellers, Madison, Connecticut
Mystery Lovers Bookshop, Oakmont, Pennsylvania
On a related note, the Authors Guild is an organization that works to ensure fair contracts and other employment rights for independent authors, and released a statement against Amazon on its blog yesterday. The organization said:
“Through creative use of its capital and every-growing market power, by compelling publishers in its free book-of-the-month club for Kindle owners, by requiring public libraries to redirect their patrons to Amazon’s commercial website to borrow books for their Kindles, by starting an imprint to compete for authors now published by the largest commercial houses, and, no doubt, by countless uses of its powerful database of consumer behavior, Amazon continues to tighten its grip on the book industry.”
Rumors of a new Amazon venture into physical stores and their continued construction of warehouses nationwide shows that the online retail giant intends to push harder and harder against competing retailers, despite continued criticism of their sales tax evasion and predatory pricing policies.
Best of luck to any independent bookstores that hope to survive this difficult period in the book industry.
Photo credit: brewbooks