Indie bookstores are in trouble and facing constant threats. In the running to kill them are Amazon, ereaders, our dwindling interest in print, and MY GOD libraries. The number of indie bookstores left in this country has reached critical levels many times; they were almost totally wiped out 15 years ago. They were on the brink of total extinction. But, alas, they were saved, saved, and saved again. James Patterson swooped in just in the nick of time. Technology swooped in just in time. This Google Chrome extension is their savior! Crowdfunding came to their heroic rescue! Dinner parties are the white knight of indie bookstores, haven’t you heard!
But wait, what is that? You are an indie bookstore and you don’t think you are dying? Ha! That’s just because you clearly don’t realize you are again at the mercy of a miraculous intervention (just in the nick of time!!)! In today’s bookstore climate, despite your best efforts to self-destruct, it is Instagram that reared its knight in shining armor head to save you.
If you are an indie bookstore and you haven’t ever photographed color-coded shelves using #Bookstagram, you are probably already dead. If you haven’t been geotagged at least 600 times by Kim Kardashian, it’s probably because you’re stuck in the dark ages and actually reading the books? If you haven’t realized by now that books are an aesthetic, then congratulations, you’ve proven yourself to be exactly what we’ve been trying to save you from: obsolescence.
No matter that in another six months you will need to be rescued again by some new innovation. And what will save you next? Luncheons? SpaceX? A new social media app that will allow humans to consume Infinite Jest in under 45 seconds flat, but only if they submit the receipt from their local independent??
You might point out that actually the number of independent bookstores in the United States has been increasing for almost ten years. You might argue that you’re “growing” and “adapting.” You might think you just “understand” what your individual customer base “likes” and “responds” to. You might even try to argue that your profit margins are “modest, but improving steadily.” But why bother applying yourself to these concerns when your next savior is always just around the corner? We’ll worry about your profit margins, thank you very much. You’re welcome for the business and you’re welcome for the timely intervention of Instagram. All you need worry about is: what will save indie bookstores next?