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Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Closed Bookstores and the Death of Quiet Places To Congregate

Many of us who love books and those who make a living from the printing and sale of books have our heads spinning with the ways in which technology is impacting the publishing world. One of the negative impacts is the decline of brick and mortar bookstores.

My local Barnes and Noble seems to be doing well so far, but our local Borders is slowly withering away. While I do not frequent any indie bookstores (none conveniently located), they are struggling too.

There has been much discussion about the terrible toll these changes have taken on bookstores and what change is still to come.

But there is one other aspect of this that I haven't heard mentioned. It is getting harder and harder for book-minded people to find quiet places to get together and talk. I have a local writers group that meets at Barnes & Noble in the cafe. It's not ideal because the cafe grows more and more crowded each time I go. The tables are little bitty round ones that are not conducive to people setting down their books. But at least it's quiet.

Restaurants are out of the question as an option for writers to gather together. Each restaurant is exceedingly noisy and very, very few have separate meeting rooms.

You'd think the library would be an option but no, the library keeps cutting back its hours. My local library has hours that are only convenient to the unemployed and those who work second or third shift.

Granted, not having a place to gather certainly isn't in the same realm of hardship as store owners and employees being displaced, but it is something to consider. And it is a new niche that some brave entrepreneur can take hold of to consider. Maybe it's time to consider an era of QUIET restaurants or cafes for a change.

It seems like a small thing, but one that would be greatly appreciated. Peace and quiet is highly underrated and unappreciated.


King J's Queen said...

B&N is still one of our favorite places to go for a date night. Do you remember the B&N we visited when you were here? It's still booming, as are the others in the area. Borders is doing well here, too. Books-A-Million has closed all of it's locations in the area.

The restaurant experience is frustrating at a family level, too. Where can one go and not have blaring music and/or TV's in every corner? There just aren't many around anymore. So much for pleasant conversation.

Have you considered meeting in a church classroom, or someone's home? You might also find a friendly local hotel. The breakfast areas aren't often used in the evenings.

Pat Iacuzzi said...

Hi Brenda--
My crit group as well meets in a local B&N. It's the atmosphere; and of course the quieter setting. But if something happens and it really dwindles, we will try our local Tim Horton's (open 24 hr.s)a local coffee/quick meal place and people stay for hrs. Or maybe a Starbuck's--but I agree, it's getting tougher.

Our church frowns on outside groups getting together, even in a classroom--they remain sacred space for study of the Word.

I like the idea of the hotel space;and I often wonder if/when we will entirely go hi-tech and not produce few actual paper books anymore.

B.K. Jackson said...

KingJ's--good idea about the hotel. Never thought of that.

Pat--you bring up another idea. Since I'm not a coffee drinker, it never occurred to me to look into the space inside a Starbucks. While I'm not a coffee drinker, everyone else in my group is, so they'd love it. 8-)

And now that you guys have given me a fresh burst of creative thought on the matter, I realize there is also AJ's Fine Foods restaurant, who has a small cafe type area. Hmm...

Thanks ladies!

Cathee said...

There's a small indepedently owned Christian coffee shop here that has rooms you can reserve for things like that. Maybe you have something like that there. A roon at a hotel is a good idea, I wonder if it'd be very pricey.

King J's Queen said...

I spoke too soon. Today, our local Borders announced it will be closing.

B.K. Jackson said...

KingJ's--sorry to hear that. I haven't been by my local Borders in the last couple weeks so I don't know what their status is. I will have to check this weekend.

I did receive an email from Borders corporate (I'm on their email list) about them filing for Chapter 11, but they plan to continue on as a company.