As I am wrapping up holiday bills and trying to make sense of the mess in my office, I got a little distracted by this article in today's New York Times. Ok, now I realize that it was in Sunday's paper, but I don't think I got to the "Week in Review" section yesterday. This article talks about something that we all at the very least consider, and often actually do: bargain shop. I am all for a bargain, but I don't offer many. Books are expensive, for many even a luxury item. Running a bookstore takes many more people than running a dress shop, with many more "tools". Will my customers buy fewer books because of the slowing economy? This is a question that I am trying to answer every day. So far my thought is to be smart about what I choose to stock, and what I have to special order for people. But the crux of the article is about more than just getting a bargain. It is about a fundamental shift in the book world that is getting nearer and nearer.
When Amazon started in the early '90's, people were prematurely lamenting the death of the bricks and mortar bookstore. Yes, the internet has certainly put some stores out of business, but not all. Several years ago I made the decision NOT to sell online. I just don't see the logic in competing against the behemoth that is Amazon or even Powell's for that matter. Listing books online is labor intensive, and payroll is one business expense that I try to control tightly. I guess this article has made me realize that if I want my store to survive (and I do, don't you?) I may have to alter course slightly. Food for thought. More ranting to come, I'm sure.