Overheard in an independent bookshop:
Customer: Do you have Ray Bradbury’s Farenheit 451
Bookseller: Of course. Isn’t that the temperature at which Kindles burn?
Not actually an exchange that I overheard, or exactly a true transcript of the conversation, but an interesting expression of views.
There is nothing like a good, independent bookshop. No, there is nothing like a good bookshop, but a good independent bookshop, once found, tends to trump them all. I was in the gloriously excellent Aldeburgh Bookshop this weekend – a place where you can live, breath, and exist with books. It’s a delicious emporium of discoveries at every turn. Wonderful! The purveyors of such a wonderful establishment are not the source of the above mentioned exchange but I doubt that they have much care for eReaders either.
Personally though, I don’t think one should fear the eReader. I love my Kindle, but I also strongly, passionately, believe that it will never kill the book. No technology ever developed to date has ever successfully defeated the might of the book. That said the market for mass-market, stack’em’high printruns and ‘airport fiction’ may well disappear to be replaced by wifi download points but these other other outlets are already threatening the good Independent Bookseller.
What is certain is that the world is changing, and publishing with it. The old publishing models are in a state of flux. That’s not to say that the Davids of Indie authors will defeat the Goliaths of the publishing industry. They might and they might not, it really doesn’t matter. What ePublishing, Indie authors and self-publishng does for books is that it allows more stories to find more readers. A good independent (and indeed chain) bookseller should be embracing the eReader and all the choice that brings. The readers will respect them for it. They will come to the shop to find out what the good books are. The bookseller needs to nurture the appetite of the readers, and yes, sometimes suggesting books that get delivered wirelessly rather than in a paper bag, or self-published books where the margins are tighter because a company like Amazon are getting their cut. Give the reader what they want and they are more likely to listen to your suggestions and come back to your shop to buy those physical books that smell so good.