Publishing/Writing: Insights, News, Intrigue


An 84 Year Old Surviving, Thriving Bookstore!

Benjamin Bass, founder, the Strand Book Store in NY

Who the hell said that bookstores are a thing of the past … emulsified in the wake of the digital storm?

I got news! There is an 84-year-old bookstore in New York that is not only still standing …  BUT, is thriving on the printed word …

Behnam Nateghi reports in The Voice of America:

Books and bookstores, have been having a hard time in the United States in the last few years.  Not long ago, large discount booksellers drove many small, independent book stores out of business.  Now,  those superstores are taking a hit from on-line and digital book sellers. Borders —  the country’s number two book chain — recently declared bankruptcy and Amazon says it is now selling more e-books than printed ones. But in New York City, there’s a family owned, independent book store that is still going strong.

Family owned business

The Strand Book store, in New York’s East Village, is surrounded by huge buildings belonging to New York University. It is more than 84 years old and is among the oldest cultural institutions in New York. It’s affectionately known for the row of tables outside, filled with one-dollar books.

Nancy Bass Wyden, Strand’s manager, is the granddaughter of the store’s founder, Benjamin Bass.  

Nancy and her father, Fred Bass, say the store owes at least part of its success to its location in New York City.

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Printed Books Resurge Due to eBooks!

Many authors are enjoying renewed sales of their backlist books due to the increased interest in reading spurred by ereaders and ebooks…And, after reading the ebooks, or portions thereof, people are buying the printed versions as well…And other novels by these authors only available in print.

The printed word will be with us forever…For many other reasons besides the aforementioned surge in sales!

Jennifer Havenner, Publishing Director for an independent LA publisher, wrote this in the Huffington Post:

More than once a week this year, headlines crossed my desk about the death of publishing, the demise of books, and the cold-blooded murderer that is the eReader. The Chicken Littles of the publishing world have clucked about lost points in retail sales of books and the increasing digital format trend. This is partly true. Book sales were actually up 3% last year and increased even more in online stores. eBooks exploded with sales over 175% compared to 2008.

Books are not going anywhere. Neither is publishing. Since Gutenberg made his epic contribution to the human race, publishing has secured a place as one of the largest and most profitable industries in history. In that time, publishing has adapted to major technological changes, survived economic meltdowns, persisted through political censorship, and made it to the other side of catastrophic price wars. The likes of Simon & Schuster and Random House are not going to lay down simply because more than 25% of their potential customers bought electronic version of books instead of much more expensive, hard to warehouse, and returnable physical books. If the mainstream publishing world’s enthusiastic embrace of eReaders is not evidence enough that they are doing fine, than their stable sales through the largest economic disaster in our nation since the Great Depression should be.

Small publishers need not worry either. They are vanguards in this new trend, innovating and competing in ways the big boys can’t catch up with. Like the music and movie industries have experienced, independent book publishers are on the cusp of transitioning into the very lucrative mainstream market.

If anyone should be concerned, it is the bookstore. Amazon’s healthy five-year trend indicates that the flight from brick and mortar is not subsiding anytime soon. Couple that with the middleman-eliminating eReaders than bookstores have a great deal to worry about. And their 15 point drop last year is only the beginning. It is the bookstores that need to break into the market with a bullhorn explaining the value of the printed book, not the publishers.

And so then, what is the value of the printed book? eBooks are cheap to produce and cheap to buy. They have negligible environmental impact. They are easy to store, tote, and transfer. They are interactive. What does a printed book have that eBooks don’t?


The role of the printed book is still critical, if not for the publishing industry, but for the human race. Our permanent record, whether through artistic expression in fiction, or through knowledge in non-fiction, is kept on printed books, not on electronic signals. Without the printed book, there is no record of our time, place and civilization.

Bookstores are repositories of our most important examples of human wisdom, knowledge and art. The role of bookstores is to protect and promote that. Publishers can reserve eBooks for all those billions of dollars worth of fluff they put out every year, but should keep the important works in print and in bookstores.

In this new frontier, bookstores will be the ultimate source of vetted high quality material. We as book readers will know that if it was important enough to make it into print, it is important enough to buy. That’s a hard case to make for an online shopping cart.

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