In this month’s Atlantic you’ll find a piece by writer Ann Patchett about her new Nashville bookstore — a funny, real-world look at a bookstore opening in a time when bookstores are supposed to be closing.
Patchett says Parnassus Books is performing nicely, though with the Nashville area bereft of other bookstores, a cynic might wonder if her success isn’t the result of what a Silicon Valley marketing friend called the “The Amiga Effect.”
If you were the last Amiga PC dealer in an area — and the only source for parts and software for a dying computer platform — it would seem like a great gig… right up until the Amiga PC completely fell off the map.
The good news? The bookstores that vacated Nashville were profitable when they closed. It’s a sizable market for a single store, and they’re hosting the kind of events that would drag me out of the house (Vist the Paranassus Books website)
(I suspect some of the high-profile guests come courtesy Ann Patchett’s address book [like Barbara Kingsolver and Racheal Ray], so clearly, if you want to open a bookstore, it doesn’t hurt to be a well-known, much-loved author).
Surviving The Ebook Juggernaut
Patchett’s store sounds like a success, but as ebooks continue to gain ground, will indie bookstores tap that revenue stream?
For a while, Google opened its Google Books ebook sales platform to independent bookstores; I could access my Powells-bought ebooks via my Google account while sending at least some of the revenue to Powells.
Sadly, Google is pulling the plug on the program (it ends 2013), and if you visit Powells now, you’ll find them pushing Kobo’s solution, which offers a smaller bookstore and requires yet another app on my phone and tablet (Nook, Google Play, Kindle and ereader for orphaned ebooks). It’s something — and Kobo’s bookstore tells you up front which books are copy protected and which aren’t — but is it a competitive solution in an age when the big players are trying (and succeeding) in walling readers into their own little bookselling universe?
I received a note from Parnassus books suggesting they’ll soon also transition to the Kobo bookstore (which has improved dramatically over the years).
With the ebook market consolidating on a few players (Amazon, B&N, Google and a handful of others), will indie shops find a way into ebooks, or will they simply survive on a shrinking printed book market?
Or, for that matter, are we witnesses to the opening of the last big, new bookstore in the USA?
Keep writing, Tom Chandler.