Monday, December 08, 2008
How Many Bookstores Can We Support?
Joyce Carol Oates reading.
Back in the day, and make that day the seventies and eighties, the only bookstore available to us just outside Detroit was B.F. Daltons or Walden Books, some used bookstores and one or two indies on the other side of town. If we wanted to find some of the rarer books on our list, we drove an hour to Ann Arbor and visited the original Borders, which was the equivalent to a trip to Disneyland for us.
Perhaps it was unrealistic to expect that there was enough demand for books to have a Borders and a Barnes and Noble within five miles from us, as there is now. Is this part of the problem?
Not so much that people are reading less, but that we expected them to read more. We expected the public support a huge increase in both the number of books published and the bookstores themselves. We expected them to forsake library reading (our most common venue for books still) and buy books. Buy them from Amazon. Walmart, Costco, Target and the other online sites. Is this reasonable? Is it that our expectations were too big?