Home » Books in General, Bookstores » Someone who cares about the inherent value of books

Someone who cares about the inherent value of books

10 November 2012

From an interview with Josh Cook of Porter Square Books in Cambridge, Massachusets via Melville Houses:

The biggest and most frustrating challenge with bookselling right now is that nearly everything that affects us is out of our control. There’s nothing we can do about Amazon’s business practices, or the Department of Justice’s insane lawsuit, or the consolidation of the industry or the changes in reading technology. So we respond, adjust, adapt. We sell ebooks, we carry more gift items because they have a better profit margin, we organize buy local campaigns in our communities and fight for sales tax fairness in our legislatures. We get on social media, we try different kinds of events, we create interesting displays, we sell the hell out of the books we love, but none of that reaches the boardrooms where the big decisions are made. If I could get one wish from the ghost of Sylvia Beach, it’s that she, or someone who cares about the inherent value of books, gets a seat in those boardrooms to advocate for readers not consumers, for books as a pillar of culture not as a unit of sales, and for bookstores as community centers not retail outlets and merchandise showrooms. And yes, I can totally see my house from the high horse I’m on right now.

Link to the rest at Melville House

Books in General, Bookstores

6 Comments to “Someone who cares about the inherent value of books”

  1. Reality is often harsh, but the reality is that the manufacture, distribution and selling of physical books is on a downward spiral that has no forseeable end in sight.
    For anyone out there who relies on physical book selling to make thier living, I would advise you to either find another source of income or to supplement your current one with some other activity, because like it or not, the printed book gravy train is coming to a stop. Oh, and as for inherent value, that, like beauty, is in the eye of the beholder.

  2. “Department of Justice’s insane lawsuit”

    in conjunction with:

    “gets a seat in those boardrooms to advocate for readers”

    does not compute. Sorry, Josh.

  3. “…for books as a pillar of culture not as a unit of sales…”

    I think Yoko Ono said, “If you can’t get your art to the masses then your art is useless.”

    So, if my novels sell enough units won’t they then become pillars of culture?

  4. It’s sad that books stores are going out of business. The problem is that customers are not buying the physical format in bricks and mortar enough to support the business model.
    Readers are still reading, they are just buying online and in ebook format more than they are buying from a physical store.

  5. And yes, I can totally see my house from the high horse I’m on right now.

    For that alone, I have sympathy for him. :)

    (More importantly, they sell ebooks? *beth goes digging* Hmm, Zolabooks.com… Now, if that site will ever finish loading, maybe I can see if they’re potentially a new venue! *time passes, page loads, clicks and a search are made* …that is one slow site.)

  6. Porter Square Books! They’re my local bookstore. I appreciate his sanguine attitude in the face of the industry shaking apart.

Sorry, the comment form is closed at this time.