Reminds me of Blockbuster vs Netflix model. This could be aligned with some fancy announcements for limited editions where fans would want to be in store for specific books.
Felt busted for a moment. I had a knee-jerk reaction to the title and panicked for a split second, thinking, (1) I need to spend even more money now to do things I enjoy, like browse a bookstore??, (2) oh no, that is so selfish of me, and (3) is the bookstore market getting worse? and worse? am I part of the problem? [because I certainly do browse amazon for prices and see how much more/less I would potentially spend.]
I am a blank slate on bookstore business models. All I know is the grey-zone of bookstore decline with online retailers (like amazon). While the idea of paying to enter a bookstore makes me feel squeamish, especially since I habitually visit local bookstores to browse new titles, I see the concern for extra payments as a way to keep these stores thriving. A donation box came to mind.. or a fee for store events/meet-ups.
I also have been going more to my local libraries, many of which have small used-book sales of their own that support community events for my library. In many ways, I find libraries more resourceful and accessible to the community than bookstores (which often serve folks of privileged demographics and financial base). I'm lucky to have the option to shop at bookstores.. and I love that they provide the latest and greatest in the publishing world.
This part also stuck out to me: "Never mind that I probably own more unread books than I could ever possibly read in a lifetime. Somehow, deep down, I think I believe that I will live long enough to read them and everything else, eventually. Books make me feel immortal, and I want more of them, always."
I will probably always have more books on my to-read list than I will be able to finish. Right now, I'm in this process of coming to terms with starting more books than I actually finish; and, very importantly, not feeling guilty for being unable to finish a book at that moment if I am really unable to bring myself to learn the subject matter or connect with the story being told.
Crazy timing. I'm riddled with guilt because literally just this morning I stole a few books from a book garage sale behind a small library in rural Dixon, New Mexico. I didn't have any singles on me and it was really cold at 8am, so I just went ahead and took the two books I wanted: "Becoming Animal" by David Abram (the sequel to "Spell of the Sensuous") and "Operation Shylock" by Philip Roth. I'll definitely go back there on my way out of town and make sure to drop a dollar in!
I too have come to love starting books that I know I won't finish. The only thing that matters is that I'm always in the middle of something good. Currently, There There by Tommy Orange, which I found at a Free Little Library in Taos.
So glad to hear that you’re reading There There. That book has such powerful stories.
This hits a soft spot for me because each of these three bookstores played a very important role in my life.
There were some toxic energies at the place I used to work at in SoHo, but it was walking distance from McNally Jackson, so I often escaped there. It was my secret sneakaway spot, my safe haven, for excessively long "lunches" and later afternoon "coffee" breaks. I'm certain that that store had a medicinal effect on me, lowering my blood-pressure a few notches.
Spoonbill, in Williamsburg, was walking distance from my apartment. When I quit that job and became a full-time entrepreneur, it was at Spoonbill that I realized, "Holy shit. I'm actually allowed to spend all day in bookstores now! What a pleasure! Sometimes I Spoonbill'd so hard and long that I only took a quick break in the middle of the day to wolf down some dumplings at nearby Vanessa's.
And The Strand - my god, The Strand. My jaw dropped the first time I went up to the top floor. Such a source for inspiration. The energy there is crazy, especially on weekends - it feels like a sporting event. So much fun.
Even though I don't buy books on Amazon, there's no doubt in my mind that I "took" more than I "gave" to each of these three places. And now, thanks to this article, I feel a little bad about it.
I like the idea of the reading room/reading club. I can see that catching on. More and more people are going to want "analog" spaces where they can disconnect from the internet and connect with each other and with their own creativity. Currently, there is nature - the Great Outdoors! - but sometimes nature is too hot or cold or wet or bright or itchy or whatever.
Yet there is a dark side to this "reading room" concept though. Let us not forget that reading rooms already exist: they're called libraries. And so in some ways the concept of "paid, premium reading spaces" is a bit disturbing - it's an indication that the "haves" are soon to find yet another way to distance themselves from the "have-nots."
An interesting proposal. I love bookstores. They have been a haven my entire life. A date day destination either by myself or with my husband. Great coffee and exquisite words - right up there with orgasms, giving birth and trustworthy friends. It would be catastrophic - and I mean that - if bookstores could no longer sustain themselves. I do order from Amazon but if I’m in a bookstore, I buy from the bookstore, never even considering to check the price, as saving a few bucks seems unimportant in the wake of the glorious experience of relaxing with a cup of coffee and a pile of books stacked on my table waiting to be explored. My husband and I both feel we would pay a $5 cover just to enter a bookstore - that seems reasonable. Even a donation jar at the checkout could be an option - give what you can. I understand that a lot of people are on tight budgets but really good whole foods and books are part of my budget, of my self care.