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Tibro
post Aug 14 2012, 07:56 PM
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QUOTE
Now 76, Mr. McMurtry, the country’s highest-profile book dealer, recently decided to whittle his enterprise down to one building, which will remain open with an inventory of about 150,000 books. He said he expected the single store to be maintained by his heirs.

“One store is manageable,” he said. “Four stores would be a burden.”

This prairie town of fewer than 2,000 people, 150 miles northwest of Dallas, bakes like a piece of flatbread at this time of year. The high temperature on Thursday was 110 degrees, with not a patch of shade in sight. It was the setting for “The Last Picture Show,” the McMurtry novel and its film adaptation by Peter Bogdanovich, and the weekend’s auction was called the Last Book Sale. A playful name on its surface, it had a serious, even grim undertone given the book industry’s anxiety about the future of its printed product.


Famous author sells off stock of old printed books. Yeah, people will always show up when there's a hint of fame or notoriety involved. But do people, the general consuming public, still buy and read books on paper? I know I do. Pretty sure Grim does. Prolly a few others. Too few me thinks.

On a side note to this story, I once heard that if people sent their books by McMurtry to McMurtry through the post with return postage for him to sign and return, he wouldn't do it and he kept them. Probably sold them at his store, I guess.


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Provenance
post Aug 14 2012, 08:10 PM
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What's a book?


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Tibro
post Aug 14 2012, 08:18 PM
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That's not really the question at all. Whatever the format we'll still agree on the term for a published volume of written work.

With the biggest, most imposing brick-and-mortar bookstores retreating into memory though, the legitimate question may become, "What's a bookstore?" Especially "used bookstore"?


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post Aug 14 2012, 08:24 PM
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What's a book is the question when you figure the number of people who aren't used to reading any lengthy text regardless of format.


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Jay
post Aug 14 2012, 08:32 PM
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The sensational experience of the way a book's binding and pages smell, as well as the tactile pleasure of holding it and turning the pages, cannot be replicated, and I hope the people of the world don't forget that.

Also, you can still read a hard copy after someone sets off an EMP or if you carry it through a magnetic field. Good luck trying that with the e-book on your Kindle or laptop.
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Tibro
post Aug 14 2012, 08:33 PM
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That's probably been true for a long time, though. The advent of TV didn't kill books. The majority of people have never used their free time by picking up a book to read as a first choice. And yet publishing has thrived and the store (and library) shelves have been a playground for those who do enjoy perusing and turning the pages.

The playgrounds are shrinking. I'm not sure the number of readers, already an elite crowd in some respect, are also shrinking though. Are they/we?


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Tibro
post Aug 14 2012, 08:37 PM
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How many books can you carry around and have available to read and cross-reference on your e-device? Would they all fit in a backpack that you'd be comfortable taking with you where ever you go?


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Jay
post Aug 14 2012, 08:49 PM
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For folks who are reading scientific/financial/technical data, many of the newest journals have already begun phasing out hard copies and are beginning to publish exclusively online. As far as non-technical reading goes, I don't usually have more than 2 or 3 books going at one time; this month, that has meant carrying around my copy of Paul Bowles' short stories and Greg Palast's Vulture's Picnic around in an actual backpack. I've got a small laptop in there too (I've managed to avoid picking up a smartphone so far), but I rarely use it.

I honestly wouldn't want to guess at how many folks do or don't read books. I'm fortunate in that I'm surrounded by friends and family that do read actual books (I've got two master librarian's as friends, and they're still enamored of the real deal), so that's going to skew my perception of how rare a breed we may truly be.
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sbmac
post Aug 14 2012, 08:58 PM
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Tibro is right. We had 5 bookstores within 10 miles in my town, only one is left. The chance of finding of something not in your thinking, a great book you stumble upon that can change the way you see the world, is nearly gone. Browsing a bookstore is tactile and meditative. Shit, most of the bigs ones starting selling toys and movies just to pay their rent before they went belly-up. At least the lone survivor in my town is an indy store, with great books. I'm not expecting them to hold out forever though. I guess I'm showing my age here by talking about the feel of a book's pages between one's fingers, and the weight of a hardbound book in your hand.
I'm used to a booklight shining on the pages, not shining up from below a screen.

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rob fritz
post Aug 14 2012, 09:13 PM
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When I try to explain to people about where I live, including the surrounding towns, one of the first things I sadly mention is the fact that no towns or city around me that have a bookstore anymore. Last one closed fifteen years ago. And I think it is before the e-book thing I guess.
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Tibro
post Aug 14 2012, 09:18 PM
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And yet I just learned about Greg Palast's Vulture's Picnic. Without stepping foot into a bookstore or talking to a seasoned, knowledgeable clerk. I'm not real happy about the way the model is changing (understatement), and I'm not real good with keeping up with the changing model (understatement). But I don't consider myself representative in any way. And I still find ways to cope.

Rob, if a new bookstore opened up in your vicinity, do you think it could maintain? What would it take? How can a bookstore focus in the current climate in a bid to be viable?


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to retain my sanity.

Then I try to convince myself that it is.

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post Aug 14 2012, 09:19 PM
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QUOTE(Jay @ Aug 14 2012, 12:32 PM) *
experience of the way a book's binding and pages smell, as well as the tactile pleasure of holding it and turning the pages, cannot be replicated

True. Also you lose a paperback/get caught in rain/etc no big deal. I have yet to figure out how to buy a used e-book but I recently bought some used books not currently available in print in any format.

On the other hand, for text books and other heavy and/or fast changing materials, there's definitely a place for the electronic stuff.

Just riding mass transit over the years I've seen a huge shift in what people do/read. The share of riders doing any reading is down (games, video, etc are up). The share of people reading anything printed is way down.

Most (not all) of any kind of reader tend to be older. The paper readers, defintely older. There are exceptions.


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Tibro
post Aug 14 2012, 09:30 PM
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QUOTE

how to buy a used e-book

Interesting point.

Pirated e-books free for all who might be interested. Music, movies and books all in the same boat.


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to retain my sanity.

Then I try to convince myself that it is.

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post Aug 14 2012, 09:31 PM
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While I don't care about selling used e-books, not being able to loan/give someone one, I consider a huge deal-breaker.


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Père Ubu
post Aug 14 2012, 09:53 PM
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I'm too lazy to read. I prefer audio-books. Although as a service hand I sure loved to carry a novel or two to read when stuck offshore. iPads and offshore work areas don't seem compatible.


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