While the goal for most independent retail stores is to take back Main Street USA from big box and chain retailers, victory doesn’t always promise fewer worries. While Borders’ bankruptcy and recent decision to shut down all shops may seem like a blessing to independent bookstores, concern still dwells within these brick and mortars. A little over a year ago, Google held an event called, “The Book on Google: Is the Future of Publishing in the Cloud?” Google’s manager for strategic-partner development, Chris Palma, announced that the search engine giant would be entering the ebook arena, along with other companies such as Apple, Amazon and Barnes & Noble. Bookstores, revered more recently as libraries, are losing profits as “shoppers” browse and research books on their shelves, only to later buy for their ebooks. With a sluggish economy and the Green movement pitted against bookstores, a new innovative business plan needed to be put into place, like charging admission for author meet and greets.
Bookstores Battle Online Sales
While sales numbers may indicate that the population has become less interested in reading, the continuing attendance at author meet and greets and book readings proves otherwise. According to Sarah McNally, owner of McNally Jackson Books in the SoHo neighborhood of Manhattan, it’s all about adaptation. She tells The New York Times, “The entire independent bookstore model is based on selling books, but that model is changing because so many book sales are going online.”
Some of the new profitable business models independent bookstores are following today include cash for admittance or book purchase for admittance. As Heather Gain, marketing manger of the Harvard Book Store in Cambridge, MA, states, “We’re a business. We’re not just an Amazon showroom.” While book sales used to make up for the price of each event, bookstore owners are now paying out of pocket, leaving them with little choice in charging admission. Those authors, who are now the main attraction with a fee, are unsure of the new business model, believing they will loose a potential audience. Novelist, Ann Patchet, tells The New York Times, “I wouldn’t want the people who have no idea who I am, and have nothing else to do on a Wednesday night, shut out. Those are your readers.”
This article is adapted from an original article in the New York Times.