What is happening to Las Vegas “brick and mortar” bookstores?
During the past few years we have witnessed the demise of many independent booksellers – those wonderful nooks where the owners knew a lot about many of the books on their shelves and could discuss them with potential buyers. To add to the carnage, this year also saw the bankruptcy of the big box chain Borders.
Several of the independents and branches of chain stores have featured comfortable lounge areas where the customers can browse books before deciding which ones to buy. They offered coffee and snack bars, some have free wi fi, and many host authors from small press, medium press and the behemoths in readings and workshops.
Are those retreats going to continue to shrink in number as more and more people buy books on line and/or opt for the electronic editions rather than print books? I find that sometimes sales of Kindle and eBook editions of the books I’ve written outnumber the print books and I’m sure that’s the case for many other authors. With self-publishing of e-books and Kindle becoming so easy, we also see a flood of poorly edited and poorly written books along with the professionally produced books. Unfortunately, that means that many people shell out good money for poor products. When they complain, it taints the reputation of both the good and the bad books.
In 2011 independent bookstores all over the country were forced to close their doors. The giant Borders Books chain went bankrupt. Barnes & Noble is hanging on, but stores have closed. How much will eBooks and online booksellers continue to impact bookstores and the sales of print books?
I searched the internet and found a few highly specialized independent booksellers like Genesis Books and Gifts whose books are related to wellness, recovery and growth, and Mystic Minds for metaphysical titles. However, I was surprised to discover that we also still have a few other independent booksellers. Some are used bookstores and others combine books with gifts. These days it seems like survival is dependent upon specializing or combining other products, but booklovers might want to check out this list:
Amber Unicorn Books
Discover quite a collection of first-editions and autographed books in this little bookstore. Their collection of used books is organized by genre and whether the book is in paperback or hard cover. Each section is alphabetical both by author’s last name, and the title within each author. Fiction books are priced at about half off the cover price if the book is in good condition, and you can find a collection of clearance books in the front. You can even trade in your old books here.
This is the spot to hit when you love those giant coffee table books meant for browsing. Assouline publishes its own line of books that cover everything from Barbie to Picasso and specialize in books on fashion. The books themselves feature highly graphic content with rich photographs and beautiful layouts. Assouline opened its first wholly owned boutique in Paris at the end of 2005.
Barnes & Noble Booksellers
As the last of the box store bookstores, Barnes & Noble Booksellers is definitely the place to go when you want the latest books to hit the shelves and more. Books, eBooks, magazines, toys and games, music, DVDs, video games and more line the shelves of this pristine bookstore. Thumb through a book while sipping on a latte. If they don’t carry the title you want, Barnes & Noble can order it for you. The location in Summerlin features numerous book signings by authors.
Bauman Rare Books
When you want to find rare books such as first issues or autographed copies, head to Bauman Rare Books, the part museum and part bookstore in the Shoppes at the Palazzo. You can find first issues of best sellers, whimsical items from Dr Seuss and “The Wizard of Oz,” and highly sought after items such a first edition of “The Great Gatsby.” While more of a bookstore for collectors, the casual reader will enjoy seeing the amazing collection on hand here.
Sitting on Charleston Boulevard between a sandwich shop and a Chinese restaurant sits Book Magician, an independent used bookstore where you can find treats you may never uncover at a big box bookstore. Instead of full sections, there’s maybe a shelf or two separating each subject. Fans also love the selection of photography books. The owner has been in business for nearly 30 years.
At Booklovers, you can find a great collection of used classics and more recent titles in a small, clean shop. Most of the books are half off the listed price, even if they’re new. Many of the hard covers of bestsellers sell for $1. You can find a collection of used audiobooks and DVDs as well. The military and children’s sections are filled with well-stocked shelves. The store will also buy or trade for your used books. This bookstore has been in business since 1994.
Dead Poet Bookstore
Part antique shop, part grandma’s closet, part bookstore, you can discover great finds at Dead Poets Books used bookstore. Cushy chairs for browsing through books or reading the first chapter and antiques pepper the store. There is even a section of National Geographic magazines, old books of literature and more tucked. Expect to find the unexpected in this shop; the inventory changes all the time.
Las Vegas’ first gay bookstore opened in 1987 as a store called Bright Pink Literature and evolved into Get Booked, a play on owner Wes Miller’s run in with the law during what he calls a round up of Las Vegas gays in 1992. The name stands today as a reminder of times when gay bashing was more common in Las Vegas. Find books friendly to the lesbian, gay, bi-sexual and transgender communities, along with magazines, fashions, toys and more in this kitschy book shop.
University of Nevada, Las Vegas students pick up their books at reasonable prices at Rebelbooks, the spot for official UNLV textbooks, gear and supplies. You can buy or sell used and new textbooks, or trade in your books for cash at the end of the semester. This local bookstore has been serving the students, faculty and staff of UNLV since 1990. The store has a second location near the College of Southern Nevada as well.
Why I hope our beloved bookstores will survive
There is something magical about the feel of the pages of a book and even though you can flip ahead with the current technology of ebooks and Kindle editions, somehow it is not the same as feeling the page between your fingers.
I said this last year, and I’ll say it again this year: It will be interesting to see how the book wars progress during 2012. From the aspect of text books, it could be a real plus. Most students today have a laptop or some electronic book reading device. To be able to carry all their textbooks around in one handy device may cause a drop in visits to the chiropractors but certainly makes sense. And, the electronic books are far less expensive, which is a boon to the already cash-strapped students.
What are your feelings? This is an opportunity to voice your opinion by posting a comment.
The Spotlight features appear on Tuesday in the Las Vegas edition and Wednesday in the Los Angeles edition. Writers’ Tricks of the Trade, appears every Thursday in the Las Vegas edition and every Friday in the Los Angeles edition.
For more information about Morgan St. James (also writing as Arliss Adams) visit her websites: www.morganstjames-author.com, www.silversistersmysteries.com, and http://writerstricksofthetrade.blogspot.com Thanks for reading my columns for the past two years. You can download my free Christmas short story Two Unforgettable Christmases in Kindle, ePub and PDF formats at www.smashwords.com
Morgan’s books may be purchased at online bookstores like Amazon, BarnesandNoble, Fictionwise, Powell’s Books and more, or order at your favorite brick and mortar store.