Home » Bookstores, Indie Bookstores » We’re going to give people a chance to buy books online from the local guy

We’re going to give people a chance to buy books online from the local guy

8 May 2012

From the Burlington Free Press:

The walls of the windowless back office at Crow Bookshop are covered floor to ceiling with wooden bookshelves. Books are displayed on every surface and unpacked boxes, containing more books, wait to be opened.

Keith Terwillegar, the owner, sits on a chair in from of his computer talking about the store’s recently launched website.

“We’re going to give people a chance to buy books online from the local guy,” Terwillegar said. “I’m very excited about it.

Crow Bookshop is an independent bookstore located on Church Street in Burlington. Although the website is new, the physical store has been around since 1995.

. . . .

“Books are like food,” Terwillegar said. “Sometimes you want ice cream and sometimes you want a big hearty meal.”

In order to feed as many appetites as possible, his store offers a wide variety.

Although a typical day does not exist for Terwillegar, the bookstore owner spends his time at the store ordering books, pricing the books and working on the website.

. . . .

He has been working with books since the mid 1980s. Terwillegar said has watched the industry change as chain bookstores, the Internet and technology has become more popular.

“All of these things present challenges,” he said. “We just try to do our own thing.”

Terwillegar’s goal is to offer an alternative for readers. The Crow Bookshop’s online store provides a different experience than shopping at a large corporate website.

“We are not creating algorithms based upon keystrokes and mouse clicks to hone, narrow and define our customer’s interests,” he said.

Link to the rest at the Burlington Free Press

Here’s a link to Crow Bookshop

Bookstores, Indie Bookstores

10 Comments to “We’re going to give people a chance to buy books online from the local guy”

  1. Is Keith Terwillegar any relation to Robert Terwilliger, who is always trying to kill Bart Simpson?

  2. I’ve been to the store—I grew up in Burlington. As bookstores go, it has the shabby-chic of a 1970s used bookstore/coffee house down. If you look at the website, its offering “Google ebooks,” the program which Google discontinued recently. How this store is going to fulfill ebook orders now would be in serious question. Moreover, in discussions of what do do about bookstores in downtown Burlington (since the closing of the Borders just down the block from Crow), Terwillegar has been decidedly cold to a community effort to get a bookstore tenant for that space. Granted, his reasoning in that regard is likely sound, but Crow has never had the feel of a front line bookstore in my opinion.

    What IS interesting in all this is that Burlington, Vermont successfully avoided the 1970s trend of the decay of the urban center and flight to outlying malls that doomed so many towns during that time. Full disclosure: my mother was an Alderman during that time and helped in this effort. This leaves me hopeful that if a community can come up with a solution to the problem of having no big bookstore downtown when they want one, Burlington can.

    (I should also note that Burlington has a number of small, independent bookstores which thrive, and one large B&N that does very well, too.)

  3. “We are not creating algorithms based upon keystrokes and mouse clicks to hone, narrow and define our customer’s interests,” he said.

    I’m still trying to figure out how this is a BAD thing. Sometimes the hardest thing to do is find a genre book I will like after I’ve gone through all my favorite’s latest releases. I love that Amazon offers me choices that are based on what they’ve figured out I read.

  4. Yeah, I think indies trying to copy what Amazon does is a bad idea. Let Amazon do their thing; you do your thing.

  5. So if they’re not using “keystrokes and mouse clicks” (ooh, how horridly 21st century, how devoid of the human touch!) to “hone, narrow, and define” what their customers want, what ARE they using? They want to throw out the Amazon bathwater, but oh, goodness, Margaret, where’s the BABY?

  6. Just remember, folks: Local GOOD. Globalization BAD. And all those books were printed right in Burlington, too, and written by locals, and no big bad evil corporations touched them at any point. Just like a local farmer’s market, in fact. We promise.

    Oh, by the way, we stock maybe one-tenth of one percent of the titles you can buy on Amazon, and zero percent of the ebooks. But that, too, is GOOD. Too much choice is BAD. (We get to define our terms, by the way. ‘Too much’ = ‘won’t fit on our shelves’.)

    By the way, I’ve got a nice bridge to sell you. Unfortunately, it’s not in Burlington.

  7. I’m trying to figure out what is new about this. Independent bookstores have been selling online for a long time now, both jointly through sites like abebooks and alibris and alone through their own websites. A good ten years into the phenomenon, this guy decides that maybe it’s time to check out this new fangled thing called the web, and it’s news?

    • Heh heh.

      I wish him all the best of luck, but what’s going to draw people to his site instead of the other, bigger ones? The distance between points in cyberspace is zero. He loses the advantage of being “the small local guy” when he puts himself online.

  8. I think we have 4 book shops in the city center.

    The oldest one is the rather classic book / paper store which, of course, mostly thrives on school books and other school and writing supplies. Next up is a branch of Weltbild, literally next to it.
    Then there is an independent store, they are rather small (think the double garage of an US house), but with a lot of shop windows.
    Another independent store opened last year, they are larger and have a side business of gaming. (Mostly board games, maybe a bit RPG – did not bother to check.)

    The 4 stores are within 100 meters of each other. I think there are others in different parts of the town. There is also an antiquarian bookshop. (Real antiquarian, not simply the used book variety – but they have those too. 😉 ) City size? A sprawling metropolis of less than 20k.

    If I had to guess I’d say that the small shop would survive the longest. They should have the largest selection, mostly due to an “one each, reorder if sold” policy. They also have the best customer service. In times of the Internet, eBay, and Abebooks getting the book you want is not too difficult – If you can use the net, which many people can’t. They are also the only ones here that will try to get any book for you. Even if they have to order it used from another continent. For a fee, of course.
    The others will only sell what their distributors have in stock.

    And yes, we still have an working city center through our local politicians try very hard to kill it through sheer ineptitude.

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