Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Tasteful competition

There is a fascinating piece in this month’s Literary Review by John De Falbe about the future prospects for the independent bookseller, which some have argued will be dead within 15 years. He argues that copying the supermarkets and high-street chains is never going to work and one answer lies in the expertise the independent can offer, avoiding a straight fight on price. He says that the main reason people visit independents is because of taste and so the influence of publishers has to be balanced with the taste of the proprietor.
Having set off last night to buy some books not just on price but availability I found that the only people really able to cater my needs were independents that were operating via the web as well as a shop front. There has always been the cliché about the web levelling the playing field but for the independents it is surely true to some extent and an awareness of site naming and key words on the site would get those specific tastes promoted higher on Google and give those independents more of a fighting chance.

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