How my Bookshop Plans to Survive e-Books

E-books scare me.

electronic readers comparedI have shot upright out of a dead sleep no less than two times, bathed in a light sweat with the thought, “E-books are going to ruin me!” running through my head. I’ve heard the rumblings of e-books, news of hipsters riding the subway in New York all reading their kindles, but until a few weeks ago, I hadn’t actually seen the beasts in person myself and consequently, started having nightmares. It’s all just a concept until you call a customer about a request and hear, “Actually, I have an e-book now, so you can delete all my requests,” or see a 45 year old woman in a tea shop in my small town reading The Grapes of Wrath on her kindle while eating a chocolate chip cookie. Part of me wants to sidle up to her and ask how it feels to be dancing with the devil, and know that there is the danger of becoming (even more) cynical about kindles and the like if I’m not careful. I care deeply about my 14 staff members, the legacy that my father started with this bookstore 20 years ago, and my investment of time and life energy, and I will not go down without a fight! In fact, I intend to not go down at all.

I’ve tried in vain to carry kobo, to have e-books in our store in general, but to date there is no licensing for small independent Canadian booksellers to sell e-books themselves

  • they’re only too happy to have me refer customers for a piddly percentage, but I have to admit I’m not really into that idea. I’ve spent hours researching, calling, and getting rather frustrated, enjoying some comic relief watching 10 Rounds of Books vs Kindle with Green Apple books with Round 10 being my particular favourite:

Funny videos and stories of nightmares aside, the truth is that the cold reality of e-books is here. I’ve decided that instead of join ‘em, I’m going to do by best to beat ‘em. I have never given in easily to the status quo – pictures of me and my shaved head at environmental protests when I’m 15 could prove that in a heartbeat, so why start now?

How will we do this, in our small town bookstores? I believe that by diversifying, and providing an outstanding customer experience, we will continue to keep people coming through our doors and buying those antiquated old things known as….. books.

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