Wednesday, January 18, 2012

'Fusty' is a Word that Springs to Mind

It's a real shame to see bookshops major and minor collapsing all over the place. People say there's no money in books anymore. I disagree. I can go into a bookshop for a browse and come out a hundred bucks poorer, a hundred years richer.

What bugs me is trying to order a book in. I have said many times "I want to buy from you, not some internet depository. So can you get me this particular book?" Eight weeks later, I'm still dropping in and asking whether my book has arrived. It seems there is a deal with the publishers - orders have to be backed up with twelve others from the said publisher before they can afford to send a parcel from Perth or Sydney or wherever. It's the same scenario with music. Sometimes I even get a wry face with a "Sorry, I don't think it was ordered at all," after eight weeks.
Why don't they try to flog me Ebooks or a sexy Kindle? No wonder they are going broke.

The clunkiness of this system in the face of their online competitors just frustrates the hell out of me. I'd be happy if the bookshop folk went on the internet, ordered the book straight from the publisher and charged me the commission and the postage. I'd pay for the pleasure of walking into the shop and buying a book meant just for me. (In fact, recently I made a local bookseller do that and it only worked because I knew him and told him I wasn't credit carded enough to buy it online.)

No bookshop in the universe, other than those ones that include clicking, 'shopping trolleys' and credit cards, can stock every book we could ever lust for. So why is it so hard for small bookshops to get in on the act, instead of going out of business and blaming the internet or the lack of people who happenchance their shop?
Honestly, why is it so hard?
Sorry but I have no sympathy for the broken bookshops. On the other hand perhaps it is just a Westralian thing and elsewhere there are bookshops that are embracing this new movement of literature and thriving.

 ... discussion is welcome.


  1. "Honestly, why is it so hard?"

    How many hours do you have to spare, Sarah?

  2. I learnt recently that if you ask a bookshop to find/order a book for you, they make the identical search that you can on the net, but - of course - they charge you for it. Sad but true.

    I ordered a rare book from Abe recently, and paid for it via the net. About 3 weeks later it arrived. When I looked at it, I realised that it had beensent from Bath, England, to the USA, repackaged, then sent back to Bath, England again. There's a lesson in there somewhere...

  3. One knows the feeling and the same thing is happening here in the States (America as you call it!!). I have two libraries one the general one in the house with books in English, French and Spanish. The second is in my study. If I need a book quickly I oreder it through It arrives two days later. If not I go to Barnes and Noble which is nearby in downtown Coral Gables, FL to enjoy a browse and a coffee.
    Good Watch.

  4. Thanks Geoff S. I deserved that. :)

  5. I agree completely. The art of business seems to be greatly diminished. I just give into the madness and buy books on-line. But paints!!!! I order them from my local art shop, trying to support them and in all honesty it would be way quicker if I just did it on-line.

    The latest classic - I wanted a new surfboard. I've been thinking about it for many months. I went to the local surf shop which was manned by both owners on the day. They didn't stock a lot but NOBODY thought to ask me if they could get me something in, or offer me a discount on the ones I was looking at. I went to the next big town and forked out $750 on the spot.

  6. I agree with most comments, Amazon have got it so covered..a book gets published and a week later u can get a second hand copy for 2 bucks - how does that work? not to mention the money not going to the writer. Also I think u may have misread Geoff's comment i think he may have meant 'have u got a few hours to spare to hear me complain'. MF has also got it right with art shops - u try to do the right think especially in a regional area, but no luck here either.