Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Challenges and Possibilities

So the bookstore that I've worked at for the last nine years is shutting its doors after years of missteps and missed opportunities. Folks have come in lamenting the store's demise due to the rise of ebooks. Others blame the economy. Publishers are already feeling the impact of lost sales as the literal number venues available for their hard-copy product shrinks dramatically. We are in the midst of a sea-change in how people will procure and consume literature in all forms.

As a bookseller, I'm in mourning. As an author, at first, I was fairly well freaking out that a gigantic arena to showcase books is going down in flames. However, I've come to realize that with the loss of the way we are used to doing business, per se, comes new worlds and new opportunities. I have a feeling that small, niche bookstores are going to find their place in the book biz once again. And yes, ebooks and ereaders are going to take center stage and stay there. People will still read...be it a real book, newspaper, or magazine or an electronic version of the same.

Cautious optimism. That's where I am right now. While I'm still floundering between disbelief and horror at the loss of my beloved bookstore, I'm seeing the changing landscape... and that landscape is really not all that bad. A few months ago, I had the words "Never Surrender" tattooed on my leg. It's a good reminder that we as writers can never quit. We can't ever quit sharing our ideas, challenging ourselves and our readers. Readers need us, bookstores or not. We are their escape, their diversion, their reason to smile and laugh or even cry. It's a symbiotic relationship. We need them so we can share the crazy stories racing around our heads.

As my grandmother always used to tell me, "Honey, it's going to be okay. You just remember: never surrender." Right on, Grandma. You were always on the money, and I'm counting on you once again. And if anyone can tell me why I have these huge spaces within this post, I'd love to be able to finally do this thing right.


Vicki Doudera said...

Jesse, you are SO right! I love your grandmother's advice: NEVER SURRENDER! Never let the &*#$%@ get you down!

And you have no idea how comforted I am by the fact that YOU TOO have the curse of the giant spaces. Maybe we are setting a new trend?

Beth Groundwater said...

Great post, Jessie! I have a quote from Winston Churchill posted by my computer monitor, "Never, never, never give in!" What are you going to do for work after the store closes?

Robin Allen said...

I suspect we'll always have physical books, but the price may go up. I sure don't want to give them up entirely.

Keith Raffel said...

Jessie, nice post. I do agree with what you said about independent bookstores. After all, there are still travel agents. I think what it comes down to is that people are going to get the chance to read in the format they want. Mass paper got to be a big deal in the 50s. Trade paper came in the 70s, followed by audio books in the 80s, and now ebooks in the 00s. There will be readers for them all, I suspect.

Darrell James said...

Jessie, I feel your pain. I'm still morning the closing of the Mystery Bookstore in Westwood. But I suspect life goes on. After all, people are still taking pictures after the downfall of film (more conveniently and less expensively, by the way).

Kathleen Ernst said...

Great post, Jessie. I've got good friends who worked at Borders as well, and it's been sad to watch and hear about those missteps. But you're attitude is spot-on! I hope that this somehow leads to new opportunities for you.

Alice Loweecey said...

Jessie, you are so upbeat! Great post. And to get rid of the extra spaces, you have to go into the "edit HTML" tab and get rid of any extra of these guys you see between paragraphs:

{div}{/div} (except you'll see these tingies <> instead of brackets)

You may have to ry it more than once--sometimes I have to preveiw and fix the spacing a couple of times.

Jessie Chandler said...

Vicki, Alice gave us the solution to our spacing issues!!! Woooo HOOOO!!! Now I'm really not going to be down lol!

Beth, love the Churchill quote!!! I'm not sure what I'm going to do once the store closes. Luckily I'm not full time since 2008 when borders laid me off of my full time gig there. I came back in a lesser position after my severance ran out and then started making/decorating tshirts to sell at festivals and writing. I think I'll concentrate on the Tshirt thing more for awhile. Thank goodness poor Betty works two jobs for me---for now!!

Robin, I don't want to give up books either. so let's not!

Keith, good point about the travel agents and the rundown of the book format evolution. These are some crazy interesting times!

Darrell, great analogy about film, and oh so true! I believe we can all remain successful as writers, and it's just going to be the format the words are delivered in will shift to some degree.

Kathleen, the old cliche... Another door opens when one closes is very true. Guess well see what happens on this particular roller coaster!

Alice, next time we see you, both Vicki and I will squish you in a thank you for helping us eradicate those damn spaces hug!!!!! Who knew?????

Alice Loweecey said...

*awaits big squishy hug* :D

Sebastian Stuart said...

Sad about Borders, but my local indie is thriving and so are some others I've visited of late (I always ask). I think we're in the middle of a shakeout, but things will settle down. And I predict a backlash against technology in the coming decade -- with a significant number of people embracing no-technology days and picking up ... yup, a book!