This article in The Globe and Mail, made me nod in agreement and familiarity, and so I present an excerpt:
"The reimagined independent bookshop is not really a money-making outfit. While these shops might break even, in some cases turn a small profit, it is only because their customers override their instinct to act like consumers and act like good citizens instead, paying full price when they could get a discount by crossing the street or just clicking a mouse. "
I have been this 'good citizen' for far too long, this new year's resolution for me was to stop buying physical books; I want to normalise ebook culture.
For such bookstores as in the article, digital is the only way forward. Ebooks can only become the profit making wing of such independent bookstores, and something that these bookstores should ambitiously capitalise on. There should be book hubs, where all kinds of ereaders are sold along with ebooks. Gadgets should complement the e/books. In house customer service would create employment in these ehubs within bookstores at the very least. Where do you find such pools of technically skilled workers? Everywhere, in mobile shops, SIM card booths, internet cafes, telephone service providers/kiosks, everywhere. Even technology could never rob a bookstore of its pristine charm, if that's our cultural memory/fear of it. The idea is to commodify/'make live' the ebook as much as its print counterpart has been all these years. Seperate the ebook from the internet; the ebook is as physical as it gets and not just a virtual entity in clouds. What better place to clarify this than at a bookstore, the shopfront? Whatever happened to the good old USB stick stocked with all the latest bestsellers?
Every retailer is going to sell this differently. But if publishers are beginning to have their own 'digital agenda', I don't see why bookstores should lag behind on this front. This begs collaboration of course.
Questions that bother me:
How many people are buying ebooks from retailers websites? (Landmark, Crosswords, etc.) Worldwide?
How many are buying ebooks from Amazon in certain countries? Worldwide?
How are local online retailers doing with ebook sales? (What about publishers' online sales? minimal, I know, but still)
Isn't there a better marketing strategy (or market) for PDF format (non-ereader specific) ebooks?
And this one is not a question really, but how many independent bookshops are there in the country? (There are a ton of online retailers, but what about physical bookshops).