I bet you have never thought about having a blind date with a book!
And, have you ever thought about buying a book that you didn’t even know what it is?
That’s what the piece by Erin Geiger Smith in the Wall Street Journal (July 11, 2017, p, A9) today showed us. In her article, “When Bookstores Become Matchmakers,” she showed ways that bookstores reveal only minimal content to potential buyers, simulating a precocious connection between the book and reader. “The clues allow readers to select a gift for themselves” (p. A9).
It is a fascinating piece, which you can read in its entirety by clicking here.
It is also one more innovative way that physical bookstores are trying to stay away from becoming irrelevant.
What do you think? Would you buy a book this way?
I found Danny Heitman’s recent article in the Wall Street Journal about e-reading very interesting. His title was “What an E-Reader Can’t Download,” published on July 23-24 (p. A-11).
In the article, he talks about the memories that are anchored as he scans the spines of the books on his living room shelf. For instance, as he sees the spine of Fishing in the Tiber by Lance Morrow, he thinks of a visit he made to Cleveland in 1991, the dinners he had there, the bookstores he visited there, and so forth. “To see the book these many years later is to think of red wine and pasta, wind and winter, good friends and good writing.”
While he acknowledges that electronic books are associated with great convenience, he also notes that the “books on my shelf help me remember that reading isn’t merely an inhalation of data. My library, and the years and places it evokes, speak of something deeper: the interplay of literature and the landscape of a life, the vivid record of a slow and winding search for wisdom, truth, the spark of pleasure or insight.”
Of course, he is right. Books are symbolic. They stand for things. They evoke passion, interest, and curiousity. When you carry them around or when you have them on your shelf, people will ask “what is that about?” or “how did you like that?” That doesn’t happen with an e-reader.
Kindles, Nooks, iPads, and other e-readers take all this out of the equation.
And that is very sad to me.
What do you think? Let’s talk about it!
News item: Borders to file for Chapter 11 bankruptcy.
I have shopped at bookstores since I was… well, since well before I was old enough to drive. I had my favorite bookstore in Beaumont, TX, in the Los Angeles area, and in Dallas. (My favorite, of all time, was Acres of Books in Long Beach, a used bookstore that was, truly, acres of books. Not attractive, dusty, “old,” wonderful! It is now closed, as I read on Wikipedia).
When we moved to Dallas in 1987, I shopped at Taylor’s Bookstore. A locally owned “small chain,” it’s location in the outer parking lot of NorthPark Center was ideal. I could always park right in front, and get lost for a few hours.
The big national chain stores put Taylors out of business, and I switched to Borders. For some reason, I always liked Borders better than Barnes & Noble – no, I don’t know why. Just the feel of the store.
But I helped put Borders out of business. Because, for the last few years, I have spent far more at Amazon.com that I do at the physical stores. So, it’s partly my fault – but it is still sad.
The bookseller’s finances crumbled amid declining interest in bricks-and-mortar booksellers, a broad cultural trend for which it had no answers. The company suffered a series of management gaffes, piled up unsustainable debts and failed to cultivate a meaningful presence on the Internet or in increasingly popular digital e-readers.
The article seems to imply that Borders’ problems are significantly Borders’ fault. But, let’s say that Barnes & Noble is better managed, better run, with its Nook, and on-line business, developed in a pretty timely manner. Here’s the thing: I’m loyal to Amazon on-line, and have never once even checked Barnes & Noble’s site.
And, it really doesn’t matter. Here’s the future, from later in the article:
Online shopping and the advent of e-readers, with their promise of any book, any time, anywhere, and cheaper pricing, have shoppers abandoning Borders and Barnes & Nobles bookstores as they did music stores a decade ago.
“I think that there will be a 50 percent reduction in bricks-and-mortar shelf space for books within five years and 90 percent within 10 years,” says Mike Shatzkin, chief executive of Idea Logical Co., a New York consulting firm. “Bookstores are going away.”
“Bookstores are going away.” It’s a sad day.
And for this blog, which focuses on business issues and ideas and business books, here’s the question – are you in a business that can shift and change and adapt with the times, or are your days numbered also?