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Three Items of Note

This post was written by Donald Michael Kraig
on February 1, 2013 | Comments (5)

For today’s post I have three items of interest…

Item 1

The Contest is Running!
—Win a Free Tarot Deck—

The winner of the best prediction of the year contest will get a free Tarot deck of their choice. Are you good at making predictions? Here’s your chance to show everyone how good you are! See my post at this LINK and make your prediction in a comment to that post!

Make your best prediction and win a Tarot deck!

Item 2

The Truth About “Bricks and Mortar” Bookstores

In a recent article on The Bookseller, the CEO of a small chain of independent U.K.’s bookstores, Foyles, called for an increasing discount from publishers and book distributors. Otherwise, says Sam Husain, they won’t be able to compete. He claims that in the last five years 1,000 independent bookstores have closed.

I don’t know if that number is accurate, but I do know many independent bookstores have closed. Even larger chain bookstores have closed or are planning to close many of their individual stores, or have gone completely out of business. The concept of the quiet bookstore where people will go to spend an hour or two, look around, and buy books at full retail price, or even at a discount, is dying.

I am a huge fan of independent bookstores. I want them to do more than just survive, I want them to thrive and grow. When I give workshops I will often encourage people to buy from and support their local independent stores.

But if bookstores think they can survive just as bookstores, they are like dinosaurs looking at a comet smashing into the earth and thinking, “Great light show! I wonder if my descendants will get a show as excellent?” The result of the comet, however, seems to have been their mass destruction.

In my opinion bookstores will have to evolve into independent community centers where people can converge for meetings, classes, workshops, and just to be with friends. They should offer movie nights using large TVs, discussion groups, and perhaps offer a wide selection of coffee and teas. Right now, it’s easier for people to go online and buy books from home. If you give people enough reason to make your store a second home, they’ll get their books and other products from you.

So bookstore owners, if you want to survive and thrive, I would urge you to start thinking about how you can become a community center. And if you’re a consumer at bookstores, tell the owners what you’d like to see added.

In my opinion we need community meeting places
and we need bricks-and-mortar independent bookstores.
Together, they can be the best of both worlds.

Item 3

The Fate of the Writer

As a writer, it’s almost inevitable that some people will quote me. As long as they quote accurately (and not so much that they’re simply plagiarizing my writing), I don’t mind. In fact, if they source their quotes to me, my books, or my blog, I thank them for it!

However, some people draw conclusions that are not, shall we say, precise. For example, if you read something and agree with what I wrote, it means that you concur or agree with me. It does not mean that I agree with you. I might. I might not. I would have to see everything that you believe and have written before I give my endorsement. Saying that I agree with you just from what I’ve written would require you to read my mind and determine my thoughts. You have no evidence that I in any way agree with you, concur with you, or endorse you. The only accurate thing you can say is that you agree with me.

So if you read somewhere that I agree or concur with someone, unless you see that I have explicitly written that I agree with this person or that group, the claim is not accurate. If they say they agree with me on a point, because they know their own thinking, they would be correct.

If you have any question as to whether I agree with or concur with an individual or group, I invite you to email me in the comments section below (I see them before they’re published) or through my email address: DonK@llewellyn.com. I will gladly let you know if someone’s claim that I agree with them is true. Otherwise, let me make very clear:

Unless you see,
in writing that is published under my name,
that I agree with, support or concur with an individual or group,
I neither support nor do not support them.


Reader Comments

Written By Jason Miller
on February 1st, 2013 @ 12:34 pm

On Bookstores. I have to disagree here on the “community center” bookstore idea. To a certain extent most independent bookstores ARE community centers, especially Pagan/Occult stores. When people complain about them not being more of a community center than they are, they are generally talking about things that cost the store money but yield little or no income in return:

1. Lecture/Hang space: Would it be great to have a giant empty space that could accomodate a proper circle or a 50+ person audience without having to move a dozen bookshelves to make space? Yes. But that is space that the owner is paying for every day.

2. Movie Nights and Large TV’s: Again, who is going to pay for it. If people are already buying their books on Amazon, the slight increase in book sales is not going to make up for it.

3. Coffee and Tea: Great to have, but are you talking a drip coffee maker or $5000 espresso machine? If talking the former, you will basically have it there for free. the latter, than you are also going to have to make all the other investments in terms of equipment, training, product, and cleanup. Not to mention additional permits, AND the fact you will be starting a fight with the local coffee shop while Starbucks STILL kicks your ass.

If you are talking about creating Pagan Community centers where people pay dues and such per month, than yes, that might work. You could have a bookstore IN the community center, but that is a bit different.

Increasing overhead is not the answer, nor is begging for competitive discounts from publishers and distributors.

What is the answer? I cannot be sure, but I would suggest the combination of a good angle, specialized titles, and expertise.

By Angle, I mean specialization. A store that specializes in Romance Fiction. An Pagan store that specializes in hardcore practical magic books.

Make sure also that you carry titles from small publishers. There is no way that you are going to beat Amazon on price, and honestly, if you sold a copy of Financial Sorcery at $16 and Amazon has it at $10, chances are I am buying at amazon. If however you have a copy of the latest from Scarlet Imprint or Hadean or Nephilim, Amazon will sell it for the same price you do AND your customer will have it in hand. Its a no brainer.

Couple this with a title or two from a local (or non-local) author that is specialty printed for sale at your shop ONLY.

Expertise is self-explanatory. Back in the day you went to Magical Child to talk with someone like Simon or Rhea. I went to the record store to see what the guy behind the counter thought was cool. I recently went to a local bookseller for his recommendation on childrens books. Be an expert and people will come to you.

Yes community will support you, but only if you show real value that they can’t get elsewhere, and only if you have a solid plan.

Written By Donald Michael Kraig
on February 1st, 2013 @ 12:59 pm

Thanks for your comment, Jason.
I think you’re absolutely right that bookstores cannot “beat Amazon” on price. That’s why, to stay in business, I contend that they need to be a community center.
You’re right that a bookstore isn’t going to have more coffees than Starbucks. But Starbucks doesn’t offer a large assortment of books and expertise in those books from the people who work there. If someone just wants coffee, they’ll go to a place like Starbucks. But if they’re looking for a place to hang with friends and discuss issues, attend workshops, and find books, a community center is where the action is.
One of the things online marketers have learned, is that the longer someone stays looking through your site, the more likely they are to buy. The same is true of bricks and mortar stores. The more people stay in there and look around, the more they are likely to find something that interests them.
Sorry, I disagree that specialization in “hardcore practical magic books” will keep a store in business for long. Your potential consumer base is going to be too small.
Yes, buying coffee machines, a TV, moving furniture, and getting permits will take time and some money. But they would be relatively small expenses on a way to better profits when compared to going out of business.
A good example of a successful business is Isis Books in Denver, CO. Besides a wide selection of books they offer coffee, have lecture rooms, healing rooms, rooms for readers, a wide selection of herbs, and a knowledgable staff. Not all independent stores will be able to have all of these separate areas or offer a selection that Isis does, but it can be seen as a model for success.

Written By Chirotus
on February 1st, 2013 @ 1:17 pm

In my hometown of Lawrence, Kansas, there is a Christian bookstore that serves very much as a community center as you describe. It is a large bookstore, and half of the lower level features a full service coffee shop. The back area has several study nooks, and the entire upstairs is a sectional art gallery that can also be used as a meeting hall. (They have free Tango lessons on Monday nights.) It works very well, and I have often thought that any bookstore could learn from this moden (especially pagan or occult bookstores). The chain store Hastings is also surviving by featuring a coffee shop, video sales and rentals, games, music, and a section featuring novelty toys and musical instruments. Diversification and adaptability will determine the survivors.

Written By Barbara
on February 1st, 2013 @ 10:22 pm

I have always thought a Pagan shop with a tea room, comfy chairs in niches for reading, tiny rooms with music for meditating and a large room for Circles would be nice. That is my dream to have such a place for all to come seek others that walk the same path.

Written By Brooke
on February 2nd, 2013 @ 4:58 pm

I, too, dream of having a place like that in my community. Our town is colonial in it’s roots, but becoming quite commercial with big box stores, and chain restaurants. I have always preferred the locally owned bookstores and mom&pop eateries, and I think with the right tools they would thrive. Although it seems as though many residents here are more “conservative”, I think that there are more people like me just waiting for a safe place to converge, socialize, share, and shop. It’s not that I mind ordering products that I use online, but it would be so nice to have a “brick and mortar” establishment with warm like-minded human beings (and maybe animals too:). I’ve often thought about opening this establishment myself…maybe it’s time. I would also like to note a shop like this that is beautiful and doing well…it is several hours from my home, so I do not get the opportunity to visit often, but if you have a chance take a look at http://www.13magickalmoons.com or visit their shop . They are located in Occoquan, Virginia and offer so much more than merchandise.

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