The Los Angeles Times recently ran an article on the state of independent booksellers in the San Francisco Bay Area, “Bookshops’ latest sad plot twist”. The dispiriting story hits on all the high-profile low points: the closure of Cody’s Berkeley, A Clean Well-Lighted Place for Books, and Wessex Books, and the financial pressures on Black Oak Books (another local fave of mine). Reading “Save The Bookstore, Save The Community” at Booksquare left me further depressed.
I was at the AbeBooks Seller Summit on Monday, where I met Alan Beatts, founder of Borderlands Books, one of the trio of local San Francisco Bay Area science fiction bookstores. (Myself, I pledge allegiance to The Other Change of Hobbit, right across the street from BookFinder.com’s office.) Alan’s on the board of the Northern California Independent Booksellers Association; as we talked about the local bookselling scene, he kept mentioning details that surprised me. For example, reading the LA Times article on high profile local closures, I wouldn’t have expected that the NCIBA would be seeing new bookstores opening faster than those closing, for a net increase in independent Bay Area bookstores over the past year. I wouldn’t call Alan an optimist (check out the dire predictions he made in an interview last year), but it’s interesting seeing a more measured take in the midst of all the doom and gloom.
I don’t follow the independent brick and mortar bookstore market very closely (except as a customer). Anecdotes aside, what’s really going on out there?Posted by Anirvan