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Is no-one else disturbed by the closure of 38 bookshops? In a story that barely made headlines today,  37 Angus & Roberston stores and one Borders will shut up shop over the next couple of weeks, and rather than cries of "Shock! Horror!", the response seems to be, "oh well".

I mean, who'd want to run a bookshop? Like newsagencies, bookshops are notorious for being hard work with little reward. People don't buy books in shops these days, anyway. Why would you when you can get them cheaper online? And isn't the book dead anyway? Aren't we all going to be reading tweet-length classics on the back of our sunglasses before long?

Earlier this week, I wrote about my love for libraries. Well, if libraries are my temple, then bookshops are my Jerusalem. Magical things happen in bookshops... Not least of all the phenomenon of people paying money to read something that authors have written. What joy! What treasure! As a hopeful future author, I planned to spend lots of time in bookshops signing copies and reading to children.

My vision has been somewhat altered recently. Now I'm starting to imagine I'll have a less physical presence as an author. I mean, without bookshops, I suppose I would be more likely to have Skype chats with readers or make podcasts for kiddies to listen to while they stare vacantly at their bedroom walls.

Am I being over-dramatic? Well, maybe. There are still hundreds of bookshops out there, after all. Some are very good and some are just full of schlocky best-sellers and predictable favourites. If you're after emerging Australian authors, you'd best try Amazon or iTunes.

There are obviously many factors in the downfall of RedGroup Retail, which owned those ill-fated bookshops, but to me the main factor that threatens the future of the book in Australia is that books are damned expensive in this country. In England, you can buy three books for a tenner - and that's three best-sellers. Here, bookshops charge upward of $25 for a single paperback. It's madness. And it's not like the authors get any extra dosh from the high price.

Two of the Angus & Roberston stores that will shut-up shop are local to me, and in my immediate area, a peninsula of 50,000 people, there is one discount bookshop that rarely strays from Harry Potter, Dean Koontz and the latest vampire series.

I think it's really sad that bookshops, once the bastion of browsers, are struggling to survive. Lucky we still have libraries, huh?

 

Published: Mar 4, 2011 10:49am by johegerty.

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6 comments

Comments

  • On line books

    How wide spread is book reading on line? Being in an area where we need a satellite to get decent computer coverage and another for the TV, and no mobile phone access (unless I stand on a windy hill) I have a bit of trouble seeing the potential. Can you read your i pad on the train without it becoming disconnected as you go through some areas – or do you download the whole book before you leave home? I am would like to get a book published, but no one wants to know – would I have more luck going directly to the internet – or does Amazon etc only publish books that are already out there in book form?
    We still frequent bookshops when we can and plan our trips to Perth around when the Save the Children’s Fund have their bi-annual second hand book sales! -taking boxes with us when we go. The book is not dead -yet. Not in our house anyway – and nor in the house of our 20+ sons!

    Published Mar 4, 2011 1:50pm by hobbsbarb

  • Will books be like vinyl?

    One of the wonderful things that happens as technology progresses is old technologies, rather than becoming obsolete, begin to take on new significances. I love browsing around used book stores like Goulds in Newtown and finding hidden treasures. The history and feeling of connection wrapped up in reading a second, third or fourteenth hand book is amazing.
    Case in point- I recently bought a bible at a book fair. I opened it and found the name of the person who had owned it before me. It was a beautiful moment, realising that someone else had opened this book, read the same words on the same pages and taken someone away from it. That tangible, indefinable sense of community is something which only books can provide. It seems difficult to imagine a .pdf file could come close.
    So, will books be like vinyl? Will they become vintage collectors items which enthusiasts are willing to spend big bucks to get hold of? Time will tell.

    Published Mar 4, 2011 2:23pm by cbere

  • royalties

    Just to correct you here. If you are paid on a royalty basis, then 5% or 10% of $25.00 creates a better earner than on $3 to $5.

    Published Mar 7, 2011 10:11am by stlg48

  • Bookshops

    Hi all,

    I picked up this site searching for 2nd hand bookshops in Tweed as my partner has recently opened her shop at the old Thinks Bookstore site in Industry drive. It’s a real shame to see shops closing, but I understand the Tweed South. For readers, A&R is not slated for closure which is a good thing. Naturally, I am sure Veronica would love to see her in her new shop as well.

    Looks like a good site, and I will enjoy regular visits here to see what is going on.

    Published Mar 20, 2011 1:01pm by ayajy

  • Bye-bye books...

    There are obviously many factors in the downfall of RedGroup Retail, which owned those ill-fated bookshops, but to me the main factor that threatens the future of the book in Australia is that books are damned expensive in this country. In England, you can buy three books for a tenner – and that’s three best-sellers. Here, bookshops charge upward of $25 for a single paperback. It’s madness. And it’s not like the authors get any extra dosh from the high price.

    Published 4 months ago by armstrong

  • Bye-bye books...

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    Published 4 months ago by armstrong

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