Sunday, November 6, 2011

Support Your Local Bookstore

Florey's Book Co., Pacifica, CA
The advent of eBooks has been a boon to independent authors. Sites like Smashwords have made ePublishing virtually goofproof. Writers can get finished manuscripts from their computers to all the major online retail outlets within minutes. We have control over price, distribution, and marketing. Amazon has embraced the model to the degree that they have an entire division devoted to independent publishing and marketing: CreateSpace. But if local bookstores struggled with the advent of big-box bookstores, how is this new paradigm shift affecting them?

It depends. Florey's Book Co., Pacifica, California's own local bookstore has survived and thrived over the years. Owner, Aaron Schlieve has built a store that caters to the needs of the local community. He offers readers a wide selection of current titles, specializes in teacher supplies, and has a nice selection of used books. He also has a good location easy to access and offers a comfortable lounge area where people can relax quietly while browsing. He also accommodates people with computers and tablets with free wifi. And he features local writers.

Florey's is often lively and full with small groups discussing their favorite books, doing poetry reads or having author book signings. And the local paper, The Pacifica Tribune, supports authors with stories when having a signing at the store. So is all well with local bookstores? No, not necessarily. Despite all the great work that local bookstores are doing to try and stay relevant, it is increasingly difficult to do so in the sea-change of ePublishing. The brick and mortar bookstore is simply not necessary when instant access to millions of titles is available anywhere, anytime. So how does a local community bookstore adapt? I asked Aaron this question; he simply isn't sure. Staying relevant in a virtual world is even harder than competing with the big-box stores when they sprung up around the country. Just look around you and see what happened to the local music retailer. Music store? No More - they are rarer than a Chicago Cubs World Series Championship.

Yet Florey's Books is still there, still relevant and still serving local readers and writers. My most recent book signing was there. Aaron helped market the event, the Pacifica Tribune did a nice piece on me because of Florey's (thank you Jean Bartlett), and the turnout was great. We had a terrific two-hour event. That's something that just can't happen in a virtual world. So even as I embrace the new paradigm, I hold back the occasional cold chill when I sometimes picture a world without our local bookstores and their dedicated owners.

No comments:

Post a Comment