the small independent bookstore

When we opened there were many motivations for the birth of this business. The food scene here in Portland, Maine was certainly a large inspiration. But Don also wanted to prove a point about brick and mortar book stores, which have seen a steady decline since the birth of Amazon and the mega stores like Barnes & Noble and Borders. We chose to specialize in food and wine in order to create a niche that would (partially) insulate us from the mercurial nature of the book buying public. And so far it is working, we are proud to report. Getting national coverage (in the April Saveur) within a year of opening our doors is a real accomplishment. However we are painfully aware of the balancing act that is being in a small business for yourself. We are members of our Buy Local organization, we also receive all sorts of bookseller mail. Recently I read something in the San Francisco Chronicle that I feel compelled to share. I know that everyone is hurting with the sub prime mortgage debacle, the price of oil, and the War and the election press down on us every day. But as a culture we need to support innovation and business on the small grass roots scale or we are doomed. I believe that book stores are like the canary in the coal mine, if they go there is not much hope for us all.
John King says it better than I do here from an article about book stores in San Francisco published in the paper on Tuesday, April 15th.
He says:
“…But a good bookstore is like a good city block: varied and rich, with layers that bear evidence of imagination and pride. There’s a tactile connection to the ephemeral world of ideas. This is merchandise, but it’s not something to be worn for a season or hung up on a wall; it’s something to be discussed and shared, maybe even something that will shape your thoughts and actions. There’s more going on than the creation of a scene. It’s the slow formation of identities, of thoughts and passions and who knows what else.
In the grand scheme of things, bookstores’ long retreat isn’t a crisis on par with climate change or the war in Iraq. Some stores will survive at least for another generation, Cody’s among them, I hope.
But the landscape has changed irrevocably. Ultimately, we’re all the losers – in ways we don’t even yet know.”

One Response to “the small independent bookstore”

  1. Alyson & Ford Says:

    Just found you through the Food and Wine magazine. Congratulations!!

    Small bookstores do have to compete with the mega’s. What does that mean? Great books to browse through, knowledgeable staff and offering a beverage for sale (OK, I love coffee). It will keep us there talking to you and become the friendly neighborhood atmosphere we long for.
    BTW, I grew up in Portland; will visit when I am back “home”.

    Alyson LID 01/27/06

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