Another year is almost over, and I guess the highlight of 2010 for RiverRun is that we are still here, and you still keep coming through our door. Thank You!!
It's a scary, scary time in the bookselling world. We've seen a kind of "perfect storm" of recession, competition, technological innovation, and industry shakiness. 2010 will probably go down as the year that electronic boks finally broke through into the mainstream in a big, big way. While Amazon's Kindle has been making steady headway over the last few years, the introduction of the iPad this year really signaled a tipping point.
I've got nothing against eBooks, I'm sure they fulfill an important function for many people. But as a lover of the book as object (how it feels, how it looks on the shelf, the little shiver of excitement you get when you see one of your favorite books on a new friends book shelf), I'm frustrated that the death of the book has been proclaimed so loudly, and so prematurely. Despite an avalanche of media coverage, eBooks are less than 10% of the book industry. That means there are still many, many people reading printed books. As long as that's true, we'll be here to sell them.
But it hasn't been easy the last few years. On the one hand, we've been more successful than ever. We boast a world class events schedule that in 2010 included Chuck Palahniuk, Jonathan Franzen, Bill Bryson, and one of the biggest catches of all: Stephen King. We worked with more schools and nonprofit organizations than ever before, and we have a high profile among other booksellers and across social media. On the other hand, our day to day traffic has lessened, and those folks have been buying less. This is partly due to the recession, partly due to competition, and partly due to our selection. As more and more and more titles are published each year, a small store like ours is less and less likely to have one specific book title in stock.
As competition goes, what can I say? Amazon regularly sells books for cheaper than I can buy them from the publisher. Competing with them on price would only put me out of business very, very quickly. Combine that with the high price of renting space downtown and I know it can make it hard for a person to choose RiverRun over a cheaper alternative. And yet, people seem to really enjoy our events, like to come into the store and browse around, and appreciate the donations we make to local cultural and educational institutions. There is a direct connection between our ability to do these things, and your choice to shop at RiverRun when you need books.
Our books cost more simply because it costs more to have a real, tangible location in downtown Portsmoth
There is good news in all this. Despite the fact that publishers seem poised to go out of business, the economy is in the dumps,and Amazon is trying to destroy what's left of the book industry. The good news is that we are still here. And if you are reading this rant it is because you, for some reason, care about our success. And that is important. So, Thank You.
We are your friendly neighborhood bookstore, located in downtown Portsmouth, NH. Small but potent, we offer a fine selection of new books with an emphasis on fiction, history, poetry and mystery. We also have a great little kids section, and hold over 100 events a year.