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Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Revolutionary Ideas

posted by on September 16 at 14:57 PM

A few months ago on Slog, I reported on the world debut of the American Booksellers’ Association’s independent bookseller branding campaign, named IndieBound.

…(T)here was a little light show and then [The A.B.A.] announced that the new slogan/website/philosophy of independent bookstores around the country was going to be…


As in, “I’m bound to be going to an independent store,” I guess. When they announced that bookstores around the county were going to start carrying IndieBound fliers (Changed from the BookSense 76 to the hipper-than-thou ‘NextList.’), suddenly the hall was filled with skipping girls handing out IndieBound Declarations of Indpendence and IndieBound pins and those plastic glow-necklaces that people wear at raves, only in the official color of IndieBound, which is red. People said things like “Welcome to the revolution” and “The revolution is now.” Apparently, independent bookstores are becoming Russian revolutionaries.

I wrote more about IndieBound’s debut in my Book Expo America wrap-up piece in June. The next step of IndieBound has just launched. It’s a social networking site where you can identify yourself as a fan of local independent bookstores and other independent businesses.

Add your favorite Indie retailers to the database—so everyone can shop indie everywhere they go!

Just added: the Waddle n’ Swaddle, in Poughkeepsie, New York. The revolution continues.

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Doesn't it seem likely that if indie bookstores are worried about their survival, meaning they're not making enough money, that they would be even less inclined than usual to throw away dollars on brain-dead marketing junk like this? I mean, that's money that could keep their doors open, right?

Posted by Fnarf | September 16, 2008 3:40 PM

These people are like Ron Paul supporters, except possibly even less influential.

Posted by Greg | September 16, 2008 3:51 PM

Their business model is obsolete. They need to adapt or move on. I cannot think of one thing they offer aside from inconvenience and greater cost.

Posted by Giffy | September 16, 2008 3:56 PM

The ABA's long slow death march towards irrelevance continues...

Posted by dr, thompkins | September 16, 2008 4:34 PM

Caveat: despite the lengthy post below, Indiebound's whole angle makes me kinda uneasy.

That being said: independent bookstores are, quite simply, better bookstores. They may have smaller selections (except for Powell's in Portland) and they may have higher prices (except for all those secondhand bookstores around here -- what, do you only buy Oprah books and bestsellers?) but they do something more than just shill for the large publishing houses. For instance, the books placed out on tables at a Barnes and Noble are there because the publishers have paid for them to be prominently displayed. It is part of the marketing strategy, and has nothing to do with where you are geographically. One Borders is exactly like another. Whereas if something is featured in an independent store, the chances are astronomically high that the book is out because someone at that very store has read it and liked it. Or they are a fan of the author. Or, often, they personally know the author.

At some point someone really must stand up and mention that books are quite a different category of object than, say, floor lamps and folding chairs. I'm not sure conventional business models are really good for the book business in the broader sense, even if they benefit the large publishers and chain stores in the immediate moment.

Maybe the digital book revolution (pending) will save books, rather than destroying them like everyone seems to think.

Thank you to anyone who has made it this far into the post, and forgive me my self-indulgence.

Posted by Alicia | September 16, 2008 6:00 PM

yeah we have waddle and swaddle in poughkeepsie, across the street from vassar college, but our independent bookstore, the three arts, is going to be put out of business when they open the barnes and noble next door next year. oops.

Posted by tobes | September 17, 2008 3:50 PM
Posted by wow gold | September 18, 2008 11:18 PM

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