There must be a way to stop the traditional Indi bookshop fading into a fondly recalled past. Most of us who love books also love bookshops. We can fondly recall the smell and feel and hush of the ranks of familiar and yet to be discovered friends in our favourite shop.
Perhaps there was an owner whose knowledge we’d tap into. Perhaps he sold second-hand books too and took our read ones in trade – but only those that we didn’t put on our own shelves to cherish or forget for years until the house move, when the dust gets blown off and they’re opened once more to produce a sigh of remembrance and a promise to read again.
Those shops are dying all over Europe and North America and that’s made sadder because in many cases it needn’t happen. Often the reason is head-in-the sand owners trying to deny the new relaity. The refuse-nicks who shun Indi publishers and Indi writers and who recoil in horror when on-demand publishing gets mentioned or who chill when the name of the great evil devil Amazon is whispered.
There are ways for small shops to live with the new reality but it needs bravery and new ways of thinking and above all it needs a willingness to speak, to talk to people like me who want to support them and sell our books in their shops. Oh sure, some self-publishers and Indi writers have stupid ideas about margins in shops and don’t understand the need for sale or return and so on.
But I do and I have ideas that would enable a shop to sell my books at a good margin and take no risk and yet… no one will listen. All attempts to talk are rebuffed, emails ignored phone calls cut short, appointments refused.
I am close to giving up but… I love books and bookshops so I try. Is there anyone listening, anyone who will talk and solve the problems and help build a new business model that includes the small shops?