Yesterday I ran some errands downtown. In Waupaca, a town of just over 5,000 people, we are very lucky to have a thriving Main Street with almost everything we need offered by local merchants here and in the surrounding area, no Walmart or other large big box retailers to speak of. We even support three bookstores! I know! It’s unheard of! Unfortunately, in another couple of weeks, that number will shrink to two.
One place I stopped was Book World to buy a copy of a book I’ve been waiting forever for, Written in My Own Heart’s Blood by Diana Gabaldon, (yes, hardcover, and I paid full price and am so excited to read it!). I did get a 20% discount, however. When I asked my friend Maria, the manager, about it, she told me they were offering a discount because Book World will be closing several of its stores. Waupaca’s store is one of them.
I didn’t ask about profits or traffic or the recession or anything like that. I’ve read enough about what is happening in the publishing world and the economy to know how difficult it is to sell books these days, especially with the competition of Amazon and Barnes and Noble to deal with. As a result, small, independent booksellers are a disappearing breed, even small chains like Book World. Although Dragonwings Bookstore is still hanging on ( thank goodness!) as is The Book Cellar, I am saddened to think that a community like Waupaca will have one fewer choice at which to browse the shelves for books and magazines, calendars and bookmarks. We will have to look elsewhere to find the perfect book for a gift or experience the thrill of purchasing the latest book in a series that has taken years to read, as I just did.
If your community still has a book store, I beg you to support your local independent bookseller, even if it costs a few dollars more to buy from them. The experience of browsing the shelves in peace and quiet as you sample the worlds within the newly inked pages, of smelling the perfume of new paper, glue, and ink which is unique to books, and of looking for a title and finding several you weren’t looking for but which you, ultimately, can’t live without is priceless. I don’t know anyone who would find going to the Amazon warehouse and browsing the shelves comparable to being greeted by name and having books recommended by a friend.
“I have gone to [this bookshop] for years, always finding the one book I wanted – and then three more I hadn’t known I wanted.”
― Mary Ann Shaffer, The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society
Hi! I just wrote about the Waupaca Book World closing on my blog too! The closing date is just a week after my Waupaca-set book will be released. Such bad news all around. (Support your local bookstore!) I was searching the web for news about Book World and found your blog entry. Cheers, June
June! I just read your book description! Did your family own Tom Thumb? My son worked there a few years ago! I am also on the Waupaca BookFest author committee. We are in the planning stages right now for next April. I would love to talk to you about your book. When you come to Waupaca to present at the historical society, maybe we could get together and chat if you have a moment. In the meantime, I love your blog!
Yes! Tom Thumb! That’s quite a coincidence that your son worked there. Wow! My book is all about it and the 30 years my family ran the mini golf. Yes, let’s talk about the Waupaca Book Festival. You can find my personal email at my website http://www.junemelby.com
Great to meet you, online, talking about a little bookstore!
Yes, so nice to meet you online! I look forward to reading your book and also to meeting you in person!
Yes it would be really sad to lose the small independent retailer although in Australia we have lost a few of the large chains of bookstores as well. Our small independent has a coffee shop attached and hosts book club meetings in the effort to keep going.
I rather like that idea of having the book shop be a hub of activity in addition to selling books. Maybe that’s why I love book stores so much. They feel like home. Thanks for reading my post, Irene!