Thursday, April 16, 2015

Boats Against The Current: More Bookstore Tales

With Amazon owning 22 percent of the bookselling industry and indie stores claiming a mere 6 percent of the market share, it comes as no surprise that bookstores as we know (or knew) them are going by the wayside.

You remember them. Some weren't fancy: preferably scuffed hardwood floors, tilted shelves, and (gasp) physical books to leaf through. But a recent loss — particularly in one region — has me reeling.

First things first: Admittedly, I have an Amazon account. And, admittedly, I use it. But recently, the declining number of physical bookstores hit me. Full force. In the face. The second book in my Peyton Cote series, Fallen Sparrow, hits shelves June 8 everywhere. But not exactly everywhere.

It won't hit any shelves in the region where the novel is set.

Yes, that's right. In the region — the entire county, in fact — where it's set. And this isn't just any county. It's the largest county east of the Mississippi. Aroostook County, Maine, has a land mass the size of Connecticut and Rhode Island combined but has fewer than 80,000 people. Therefore, its longtime bookstores — all three, including a chain store — have gone the way of the dinosaur.

Hard to believe? It is for me. I lived in the area for a decade, did many signings (and buyings) at the three area bookstores — two indies and a B. Dalton. Perhaps the scariest fact of all is that the area is dominated by an aged population. Therefore, I can't attribute the make-the-bookstore-disappear trick to a rising number of young people reading e-books rather than physical texts. What's that say about the role books play in people's lives?

Let's not think about that. That thought is scarier than Stephen King's fright-filled Salem's Lot.

So what's a writer to do? There are, of course, a few libraries. And I can certainly hit those, but the lack of stores in the region where the series takes place is a major blow. I'm relying on newspaper ads and (hopefully) reviews and features.

So, as F. Scott wrote so elegantly, we beat on, boats against the current. And self-promote like hell.

1 comment:

Eileen Goudge said...

I'm mourning the passing of my favorite hometown bookstore, Capitola Book Cafe, this past year. Sob. And I don't live near there anymore. Many happy memories of browsing and booksignings, after I became a published author. Long live the indies that are still with us.