Shadow Publications Store
I visited the local Barnes and Noble today and this led to the following rant. Warning: definitely NSFW!
I've seen exactly what you're talking about at bookstores too. Your observations about the bookstores of old could equally apply to the libraries of old. The reason I'm such a voracious reader today is the result of doing just what you used to do: first in libraries before I had any disposable income; then later in bookstores. I fell in love with reading by grabbing books by authors I didn't know, read the back, read a few paragraphs, check it out and took it home to dive in. So what's going to happen...to real bookstores, to libraries, to authors? You're right about the size of the coffee shops in many large bookstores today. If the bookstore is really just a coffee shop, why go? If the real variety of books is only available on line, I'll take the book from my mailbox or on my iPad and go to a real coffee shop. At least I won't be inclined to get mad as I sit in the middle of a lie. In the end I hope my son has the same chance I did to wade through literature--good and bad--and learn what he likes through reading. This trend frustrates me too. Good rant!
I think the days of the huge corporate bookstore are numbered. Things are changing in publishing so fast, that the NY big boys are scrambling to keep up. They've resisted the shift to digital books, which I think is a huge mistake on their part. They think they still control distribution. They think people read what they tell people to read, but that is changing more and more every day. I almost exclusively buy my books online now... and almost exclusively on my Kindle as well.
The consumer is driving this market, and they don't want to pay $9.99 or $14.99 for an eBook, as the big boys insist on pricing some of them. This is a good turn for the independent author or small press who is flexible enough to move with technology.
We're even thinking of releasing our 3rd book digitally first, as our digital sales far exceed the print sales online.
I second what Tia said.
The big stores we have left in the UK seem to cater for books that are in the mainstream - if you are an A-list author your books are pushed to the parts of the store where they are easily visible to buyers and browsers. There's no chance of finding anything which doesn't fit into the demographic.
And, like Tia, I have found a lot of great authors online, like yourself. If I had just stuck to browsing for books in the big stores then I would never have found Scott Sigler, Seth Harwood, Phi Rossi, Mur Lafferty (do I need to go on...?). The big stores don't take chances on those who don't want, or are unable to, spend a vast amount on promotion and advertising.
That's why I spend time in independent bookshops, buy my books online at the authors website and use second-hand bookshops. We did have a Borders Books in the UK, but it went bust - at least, there was a huge choice. But in these financially challenged times, the purse strings are being drawn tight and bookshops are the same - they have to trim costs and it ultimately means that there will be fewer books by unknown and breaking authors on the shelves.
Even when you're ranting you manage to make sense, strike a nerve and get our attention. Honestly I don't even bother with the big bookstores anymore. We have a couple - literally, a couple- small indie shops where every book old and used or new can still be found. I don't know how they're doing business-wise, but It's disturbing to think they may one day no longer exist. I love books. I admit it's become a lot easier on my pocketbook to first check out and purchase digital copies before deciding whether I want to go ahead and buy a hard copy. But I do still buy books I really want to have and keep when possible. Still, there are many authors I've found online that I never would have otherwise, yourself included. I wonder if there will ever be a balance between the digital and physical worlds that will be good for everyone.
Copyright 2013 Paul Elard Cooley