Just got back from a relaxing beach vacation in North Carolina’s Outer Banks. Aside from blue skies, a minimal amount of jellyfish, and the blackened fish tacos at Uncle Ike’s, one of the highlights of our week was spending time at the Island Bookstore in Corolla. Below is a view from the front porch of this quaint, but well stocked and organized, establishment which seems to do a brisk business (warms the heart, that):
Like most publishing people (really, like most book people) I’m thrilled at how nicely the independent stores are doing after being pummeled by giant corporations starting in the ‘90s and facing the threat of death by e-books that doomsayers predicted (and still do). What I didn’t expect, and find rather ironic, is the fact that we now are all worrying about and rooting for Barnes & Noble’s survival in the wake of its recent struggles. B&N, once publishing’s bad guy, has relinquished its evil empire status to the mighty (Villanous? Depends on who you talk to…) Amazon, with the result that people who once reviled the company are now offering suggestions on how to stay afloat for the sake of the book business as a whole. This piece by Jason Diamond in Flavorwire goes to the heart of the issue and suggests that B&N act more like an Indie in order to save itself. Did I mention irony?
As much as I love a musty, cluttered shop that I can lose myself in for hours at a time, growing up in the Miami sprawl, I went to the Waldenbooks or Borders at the mall because quaint, pretty Indie bookstores were not just a stroll away. Sure, these mall venues lacked charm, but they offered access to the titles I wanted and needed and I was grateful they were around. I do hope B&N, which effectively replaced those old mall stores, will hang on for a new generation of readers who get dropped off at the mall by their parents.
So, what’s your favorite bookstore? And why?