January 31st, 2012

the wall hammers

From facebook, interested in opinions.

Liam
Sad to find so many real world book stores shut down. Many changed to *every book $5.00* but they are not clearing stock, offering bargains, all the books a trash really only $5 in value anyway. Lots of good Aussie book web sites: user reviews, good pricing, fast delivery... just a putty they are five years too late.

Anthony
Have you noticed any *real* book stores closing down? You know the ones, way too many shelves, books haphazardly stacked on the shelves, lots of second hand and/or random indie stuff and a person behind the counter who not only can talk about what they have in stock, but are excited to? My favourite books shops are the second hand one on Flinders and the one in Mansfield and they seem to be doing better and better. The Mansfield one is chockers every time I go in there.

It seems to me the only bookstores are the ones that stocked 1000 copies of popular writers who have massive marketing budgets behind them or whatever Oprah spoke about this week, and employers who didn't have an opinion on Kerouac and think Anna Karenina just got knocked out of the Australian Open.

If my perception is reality, then good riddance. Borders and Angus and Robertson spent 20 years saturating the market with locations and stocking whatever pulp the publishers with the large marketing budges wanted on the shelves and staffed the registers with minimum wagers whose main concern was getting the cash to pay the bills and do what they really wanted to do. They turned books into just another consumer item as opposed to a love, a hobby, a passion. They weren't in the book business because they loved books, but because they loved business. And whilst I think that someone making money out of their passions and loves is one of the paths to leading a true and happy human existence, when decisions about art are made profit leads to perversion.

So the internet killed the parasites. My perception is that the passion and love has come back into the book store; once again you can go into a book store and be told to fuck off if you ask for the new Tom Clancy or Dan Brown book, because that's what the lovers of literature need to hear. If people want to read pulp (and that's not to diss pulp, I am a big fan of the tacky novel on the beach from time to time), then they get it on the internet straight to their kindle. If they want to hold a hardcopy or smell the ink and have use their books as decor to create their own space, you can now go back to a book shop where you can hang out and talk books to the staff for half a day, buy a random book by some obscure author 50 years ago you've never heard before and feel like it's a day well spent.

I'd love to hear if other people have noticed something similar going on and it's not just my imagination, because if the internet is starting to destroy multinational behemoths motivated purely by shareholder return, whilst retaining space for local, small based enterprises run by passionate people, not to mention enabling emerging writers to publish without the support of publishers or distributers then we've got another piece of evidence to add to the argument that the internet is fucking awesome.

People are paranoid the internet is destroying industries. To my perception all it is destroying is the parasitic parts of the artistic process that have for decades have become to be accepted as "necessary".

Fuck the suits, eat the rich.

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