Thursday, April 8, 2010

Is Small so Beautiful?

This week’s bibliosite comes with a story which poses a question I’m chewing on.  So here is what fell out of a book recently:

What a lovely looking bookshop!  And it’s been in business since 1847!  Wow.  Must be quite the place . . . a place you can depend on to be there forever, I would think.

Not so!

After doing some web research I found the following:

87 Park Street

Tel: 0117 927 6602
Fax: 0117 925 1854

Manager: Lindsey Stainer

George’s is now owned by Blackwell, the 2007 winner of the retail chain of the year award by the Retail Bookseller Awards.  George’s went from being the quaint independent bookstore everyone wants to succeed to selling out to the man.

Was this such a bad turn of events?

I can imagine Blackwell’s ownership is able to provide a level of service and efficiency that George’s was not able to provide.  I imagine Blackwell’s can provide a stability and health benefits to its workers that George’s could probably not provide.  So what makes us feel sad about the loss of George’s?  What was lost?

What do you think?

1 comment:

  1. This article brings to mind the principle of subsidiarity, which in brief states that matters ought to be dealt with by the smallest, most local entity as long as that entity can handle matters as well as anything bigger. On the negative side of a definition, it means that big government or Wal-Mart or whatever should not step in and take over what the little guy can do sufficiently well.

    As asked in the article, does Blackwell offer something George's could not? If so, it does not necessarily violate the principle of subsidiarity. But did George's have something Blackwell cannot give?

    We probably don't have enough information to work with in this particular case, but the general question it brings up is worth thinking about (which I'm sure was the point of the article).

    Being acquainted with a number of small bookstores, I think the small, independent types have something the biggies have never demonstrated: a knowledge and enthusiasm for the books they carry, and thus a real helpfulness to those of us looking for particular sorts of books. Loome's is one of the places I have in mind.

    Barnes & Noble? Just go there some time and tell them you're interested in scholastic metaphyiscs. I bet you'll get shown to a scary new-age sort of section. It's not the same as dealing with people who know and appreciate what you're talking about.

    So, generally, that's what I think about small bookshops; they are more beautiful. The folks in them tend to know about the books in them and they can share with you that information and you will end up finding good books you never knew existed. They are partners in the quest for books and knowledge, not mere salesmen. It is very beneficial.