It’s hard to decide which of these two monopolies to dislike more. One wants to take over the retail universe, and the other strives to take over the retail universe. One is brick and mortar and treats employees less than admirably, the other is an online store and treats employees like a third world country. One sells various and sundries, the other sells various and sundries, and oh, yeah, books. One used to sell the Kindle pad, the other still sells the Kindle pad.
Borders has closed. This is a shame and a travesty. In an era when there is more being published and more of the population is literate than ever before, why is a bookstore closing? One issue that has risen out of this is something that I alluded to in an earlier article on eBooks. Namely: what happens to your content when the content provider closes up shop? Thankfully, in this case, Borders had been transitioning its eBook clients from their servers to Kobos, so they weren’t left high and dry with no access to their purchases. Will all eBook providers be this kind when they, as with the vast majority of businesses, either close up shop or give up on one technology and move to a new one?
Several events in recent years, some directly related to eBooks, others only tangentially related via technology, have made me wary of relying on a third party to give me ongoing access to material I have paid for. One is, and I think I’ve mentioned this before, the time that Amazon reached into the Kindle accounts of any North American user who had purchased a copy of (ironically) 1984 by George Orwell and plucked it out of their account. They did this because it turned out they did not have permission to be selling this particular edition as an eBook. This draconian measure only serves to highlight the impermanent and transitional state of the eBook, of digital files in generally, really.
What Store Hours Say about You
There is nothing more frustrating than that locally-owned business who chooses to close right before or right after you arrive, correct? It’s almost like the indie shops should do everything like the larger chain stores, including hold early and late hours.
Why should customers expect this out of privately-owned business? Well, when you think about it, we often tout that we deserve their business in order to “keep it local.” Don’t the customers deserve extended hours? Don’t they deserve everything that the chain stores can give?
This is just the thing. Indie bookshops are not corporate giants. Oftentimes, even these giants will keep late hours while not making large profits during those hours simply so that they are known as an all-hour joint. Confusing? I call it the “Wal-Mart Effect.” Anyone will shop at Wal-Mart because of their lack of exclusivity. In other words, they have, literally, an open door policy. They never shut! Psychologically, this gives the consumer confidence, knowing that this particular business does not and will not shut down.