I’m definitely not the first to make this sort of comparison…
In the early Aughts I hit my fair share of chain music store liquidation sales. Sam Goody, Tower Records, and other mall-type CD shops that were going out of business post music industry collapse. I didn’t feel good about the doors closing, but I knew the business was forever changed. And scouring the racks brought me some new music.
This came back to me after reading about how Barnes & Noble is going to be closing 20 stores a year for the next decade. Don’t worry, I’m not getting nostalgic for the halcyon days of big box bookselling, but I do agree with this gist of this article that says it might truly be a positive for the independents that are left. Although, we have sort of been here before.
Here’s what makes me a bit of a believer, though: while I don’t have a dedicated chain music store in my town anymore, I do have an independent record store. But they don’t sell the latest in digital formats – they’re all vinyl now. The people who go in are there for things Sam Goody never really provided. This gives me hope for the indie booksellers.
So while we all thought that the big box booksellers were going to kill all the indies (and there has definitely been a fair share of that), it’s looking like the market and technology have hammered everyone, but the big boxes could take the abuse for longer. But now the biggest is about to close hundreds of stores.
I don’t know what’s going to become of my local Barnes & Noble – who knows, I might be shopping another liquidation sale soon. I won’t be happy about it, but the biz is tough right now. Thankfully Schuler Books, and Pooh’s Corner, and McLean and Eakin, and Anderson’s, and a lot of the other indies we love are still doing their thing.
Stick around guys.