Thursday, May 11

Save Burke's!

From Downtown Books:

Burke's Bookstore, that fine old establishment, is in trouble, financially. They recently sent a letter out to their client list asking for help and "cash donations". In the letter, they blame superstores, 9-11 and the internet for decreased sales.


Bookselling is hard work. The image of the doddering old bookman who smokes a pipe and reads all day is as far from reality as one can get. Books are heavy, and dusty. They cost money, as does the rent, the utilities and the people to put them on the shelves. Many booksellers find themselves reading less than their customers.

Things have changed, no doubt about it. In the old days (defined as about 6-8 years ago), you bought a book, you priced it and put it on a shelf. If the customer wanted it, they bought it from you, or they did without. What has been great for the consumer has hurt the bookseller; the internet. If you want a copy of The Sun Also Rises, you can zoom over to and get you one, without ever leaving your chair.

I'm as guilty as anyone. I love Amazon. But I love bookstores more.

I'll do my best to get down to Burke's and spend some money this week. I'm looking for another Lorrie Moore book (I just finished Birds of America, which was excellent) and A Scanner Darkly. I'll go in there looking for that stuff and come out with an armful of stuff I've never considered before. That's why Burke's needs to stick around.


Blogger oskiesmom said...

Deliberate Literate has WiFi access. Does Burke's? If not, they need to adapt to better serve market needs. You can't remain an old-line bookstore and expect to stay in business out of the sheer goodness of customers' hearts. Good as yours is.

Thu May 11, 12:30:00 PM  
Blogger Serrabee said...

It sure would help if their employees weren't such condescending oafs.
I like the idea of Burke's, I just never have pleasant experiences there.

Thu May 11, 06:12:00 PM  
Blogger theogeo said...

I dunno, I've never had a bad time there. However, I've never had more than the most basic interaction with anyone. I hand them books, they enter books into computer, ask for money, I give them money, they give me a bag and the books with a complimentary bookmark and a receipt, I smile and we exchange thanks.

I've never asked for anything from anyone there, but now I'm going to make it a point to see how they act.

Fri May 12, 02:25:00 AM  
Blogger phallicpen said...

Aw, that sucks. So the five bucks I spent there didn't make a difference at all? Can I spend five more online?

Fri May 12, 10:36:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I don't understand what cash donations are going to do for Burke's. Think about it -- their business is failing. They offer no suggestions, at least in the Commercial Appeal interview, of what they are going to do differently. So, you donate $50 or $100, for what purpose? To allow a dying business to keep its doors open a little while longer? That's just throwing good money after bad, in my opinion.

Mon May 15, 10:35:00 PM  

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