You might call it a retail recession but it isn't really; Savvy consumers are still buying, but online. In the past few months two book chains have fallen by the wayside. Their premises will be replaced either by an eatery or cafe. Chomp, chomp! Slurp, Slurp. You can't buy your next flat white online. No, but they're working on it.
In the past two months, Canberra's reputation as a city of bookshops has taken a hammering with the closure of the Angus & Robertson chain and Borders. The latter has been no more than a decade. Apart from the employee's who lost their jobs there has been no great regret at their passing. Is that how it is?
Former Treasury secretary Ken Henry once drolly said hundreds of jobs are destroyed and created every day. Even Joe Schumpeter, the economist who told us about the economic and entrepreneurial forces that made for creative destruction had pangs of regret about the loss of the old forms of business life. Some bookshops still remain but have seen no spike in sales since the closure of two major book chains.
A soaring dollar and the impetus it gives to online purchasing means that they live a penurious life. It was only a few years ago people were being enticed to use their super and invest in a bookshop franchise. There is something, though, about bookshops that we should value as pure heritage. Its the smell of print and paper, their quaintness and quietness, the joy of finding a new book as one browses the shelves and watching fellow bibliophiles.
Stanley Baldwin, the former British prime minster got high sniffing books. Old volumes have that musty smell of history. A whole academic discipline makes it its business to trawl through the personal libraries of great economists and scrutinise any annotated comment on book margins.
Read the rest at The Canberra Times.