From The American Booksellers Association:
In the latest installment of our series profiling American Booksellers Association Board members, Bookselling This Week talks to Kenny Brechner, owner of Devaney Doak & Garrett Booksellers in Farmington, Maine.
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BTW: What do you think are some of the most important changes in bookselling since you took over your store?
KB: The Internet and digital technology have been the core engine of change, and it is a two-edged sword, of course. We were the keeper of the keys in 1992, when I began bookselling. Information regarding books in print literally resided in Books in Print, and stock availability was to be found in microfiche stacks from wholesalers. Information is ubiquitous now, and the need to be in command of it and to maintain a store that is literally immersed in community outreach is a life-and-death affair.
There are positive changes that resulted from the rise of technology. E-mail listservs, at any rate, greatly increased outreach among my bookselling colleagues, reduced isolation, and were a dynamic force in bookseller-to-bookseller education and support. The New England Children’s Booksellers Advisory Council (NECBA) listserv, in particular, was a revelation to me and the starting point of some lifelong bookselling friendships that are beyond price.
E-mail and social media have also greatly increased bookseller-to-author and bookseller-to-publisher connections and partnering. The effectiveness of e-mail and online marketing are benefits, too. The downsides, largely due to a lack of filtering and regulation, are considerable, however. The rise of print-on-demand publishing, for example, has transformed the volume and spread of vanity books from a still reservoir into a thundering self-published tidal wave. I believe in filters. Traditional publishers’ acquisitions aren’t perfect, of course, but publishers and professional bookstore buyers play a vital role in the intellectual marketplace. Most importantly, proprietary publishing is the last substantial bulwark against the unregulated nature of online retail, which is coalescing around Amazon even as you read this. The biggest change in our bookselling world has been Amazon’s ability to blanket its assault on traditional publishing, bookselling, local commerce, sustainable communities, and traditional cultural norms under the false narrative of passive inevitability. Challenging that narrative successfully is our task.
Link to the rest at The American Booksellers Association
PG prefers “the unregulated nature of online retail” and finds it intellectually stimulating. The thought of going back to meatspace bookstores and dead tree books is depressing.
PG suggests that a great many readers are far more satisfied with the quality of their book discovery, acquisition and reading experience during an era of ebooks and indie authors than they were during the dark days of Rule by Gatekeeper.