Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Los Angeles Bookstores

On the heels of Williams Bookstore's Centennial (see previous post), the Los Angeles Times follows up on the trouble of another local legend whose future is in doubt for a different reason: Book Soup.

Here's a picture from Bewitched that shows the place. You can also see the KTLA video of the store here.

The Times article centers around the death of Glenn Goldman, who made Book Soup what it is, and whether the store can continue without him. There's some interesting facts in the article that give hope for the remaining independent bookstores--like that Skylight Books of Los Feliz had a good 2008 (sales up 7.5%) and expanded their store.

A related article in Time Magazine (Feb 2nd) covers the book publishing industry. A one-word synopsis: dysfunctional. That doesn't mean that books or booksellers are going away, but the industry is churning and all the Pepto Bismal in the world is not going to settle it.

Real estate and that dysfunctional publishing model helps explain why we've lost so many treasures (Either/Or, Acres of Books, Dutton's, etc.), and why Barnes and Nobles and Borders are in big trouble, but we can also hold out a ray of hope for the small shops that are agile and quick to respond to their customers' needs. Williams Bookstore does it by stocking the foreign language papers and graphic novels that bring in locals. Book Soup, hopefully, may become owned by its employees, who also know their customer base well.

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