Thursday, February 24, 2011

Bookstores Need More Money, Less Mouth

From MobyLives.

The bookstore I co-founded and built from the acquisition of a single rare book is closing at the end of March. Wolfgang Books has been a mainstay of the Philadelphia area for the last five years. It has won four consecutive “Philadelphia Hot List – Best of Philly” awards and has never been shy of good press. Any walk of bibliophile can find something at Wolgang’s. Rare, used and plenty of new titles are to be had. Of the new titles I’d say 80% are from indie publishers and 100% are chosen by the bookseller.

That’s a lot of talk. Since my former business partner, Jason Hafer, to whom I sold my half of the company, announced that he was going to close the store because of slowed sales (and they are slow) I have heard a lot more talk. No doubt he’s heard still yet more.

“Was there no way to save it?”
“Are e-books killing bookstores?”
“I thought with Borders retreating it might get better for indies.”
“I always mean to go in but forget to.”
“These are hard times.”
Amazon, Amazon, Amazon…”

Someone recently told me that they love the store and wished they had bought more books there — but Amazon, they said, was just too cheap. Not in the mood to accept their expiation I decided to tell them that the situation they just described was a major reason for the store’s closing. They acknowledged my point and proceeded to ask me if I knew whether the rare & collectible books were going to be on sale. Apparently paying full-price on front list paperbacks was too much of a hardship for him. Getting 40% off on a first edition of Celine, well, that right there fit snugly into the budget. Hell and damnation.

For the rest of this, please go here.

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