Friday, December 30, 2011

What Does The Future Hold For Local Booksellers?

The new year is nearly upon us and now is the season for prognostication. Many of us are looking to our personal futures and making our resolutions. So in this coming year are local booksellers going to survive economically? In this past year the e-book which has been floating around out there for the past several years really hit its stride. In addition, internet bookselling has continued to grow strong. Can your local bookstore find its niche in this climate of increasing competition? What strategies are they using to survive? Just recently, Borders Books folded. If the economics of scale is no defense what are they going to do?

Old Scrolls Book Shop (link below)
Many who have survived have moved beyond simply just selling books. There has always been a 'bookstore community' of regular visitors, but many retailers have pushed that social atmosphere to a new level. The one advantage that bookstores will always have over the internet / e-books is that they are a social setting. You can meet authors for signings. You can meet friends for coffee. Get together with a book club> There are advantages in that brick and mortar which can be exploited.

The bar scene model is the perfect example. (I heard an interview on NPR, I believe, explaining this fact. I wish I had a link to the interview. The owner went onto to explain how they are emulating the bar model.) Very few people actually go to a bar just to drink. It is the social experience which they are seeking. Bookstores have been pushing that social setting as a counterweight to the people who want the convenience of just ordering or downloading a book. Granted alcohol may have more of a draw, but it is a strategy which is helping. A bookstore has always been a great place to meet people. Now that side-benefit may be its saving factor. Barnes & Noble is a perfect example of this with their coffee shop right in the store.

Here is a great article on the subject.

Personally, I love this trend. I would not be surprised to see more of a fusing of bookstores with local coffee shops / eateries in the future. They don't have to be owned by the same person, but both seek to draw people in through their doors. It is a comfortable setting that are made for each other. It is working for Barnes & Noble why not the smaller retailers?

I feel that the shops that sell the older collectible books and out of print stuff will do fine. They can always augment their local sales with internet selling. This is an advantage over sellers of the new to market books who run straight into competition from B&N and Amazon. They should be fine.

On a side note: Have a Happy New Year everyone! I am thankful for those readers who regularly tune into my blog. I appreciate your time. I will continue with my mission statement here. Yes, this past year I didn't get too much of an opportunity to get out, but it is still something that I intend to do.

2012 is right around the corner. I wish the best to all in this coming year.  

Monday, December 26, 2011

South Hadley Approves Borrowing Measure For New Library

This is great news! I hope that the process goes through completely. There is so much wasteful spending in government. It is nice when people get it right for a change.

Link to the article

Take Advantage of History in the Present.

Many people live with the fallacy that everything which is here now will always be here. Students of history know that is the farthest thing from the truth. The world is a changing place. The weather changes. Landmarks which seem permanent can be wiped out at the whim of nature. Entropy lays it decaying hands on the world around us.

Depressing, sure as heck it is, but it is just the natural cycle of the world. We see it every year in the trees around us. Now, some things are relatively constant like trees, but some things are not. Natural landmarks or man-made creations such as local monuments. They may seem to be holding time at bay, but truly they are not. These things should be enjoyed in the present.

I just read an article which displays this point perfectly. Ancient Roman pillar collapses at Pompeii villa. Now on the onset you may say, 'Yeah, that is a shame'. Think about it though. There aren't any people who can call themselves citizens of the Roman Empire alive today. Therefore, there aren't going to be any more villas constructed dating to that period. All we can do is try to preserve the ones we have left.

I understand that jaunting over to Italy is not going to be high on everyone's 'to do' list. For many a trip to Egypt, Greece or anywhere in the classical world is probably going to be a once in a lifetime experience. That doesn't let you off the hook though. There are places right in your own backyard that you can take the advantage and visit. You might not think that they are as awesome as Chichen Itza or Hadrian's Wall, but it is your local history. I see that personal ownership as actually making it more important. This is what you have to show the world. Be proud of it! It is only relative opinion which says one landmark is more important than another.

This past year has been very chaotic weather-wise in my neck of the woods. I have had tornadoes, a hurricane and a blizzard roll through. We were lucky that the damage to local history was minimal, but it could have been far worse. Don't assume that these places are always going to be there. Between nature and man the world is chaos when it comes right down to it. If you appreciate history then take advantage of it in the here and now before all you have is memories and photographs.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Buried Treasure Found in the Passau State Library in Germany

Tanja Höls

Read this great article on the discovery.

Here is another with some additional information.

I love reading articles like this because it touches on a situation that I love - exploring in an old storage room. The items in such rooms are often forgotten. Yes, you often have to deal with dust and the items are all crammed together. You will have to feel the anger and pain of why such items are treated that way. And you will rant silently at whoever did this. Yet, without their maladjusted priorities you would never have been granted this opportunity so you just bite your lip and press on.

It wasn't quite so bad in the article. I'm sure that it was nicely organized and cleaned - smelling like old wood and books. I was just left drooling wishing that I could be crawling through an old European library. I'll even dress up as a maid. I don't care - cheap labor here!

Now there is also the numismatist in me which enjoyed this article. I would love to see those old coins when they are finally all displayed. I believe that they will be available on the library website when they are finally all cleaned up.

Now this is an extreme case, but buried treasure exists in every library out there. You just need to go out and find it yourself.

City of Passau