I am probably asked that question more than anyone else in the known universe, because I work in a bookstore, and I also recently published a novel set in a struggling video store.
I have pat answers prepared. But it’s the subtext of the question I find most interesting.
What people are really asking is, Isn’t it sad how bookstores are going the way of video stores, that is, off this mortal coil?
“Yes, it’s very sad,” I want to say. “Except it isn’t true.”
The similarities between the two industries are obvious. Both bookstores and video stores are retail businesses composed of shelves lined with stories of one variety or another. Some of those stories are real, some are commentary on the real, and some are completely made-up.
Both industries are staffed by zealous experts whose passion usually outweighs their paychecks, who take their reward from something other than cash-in-hand/possible career advancement/etc.
And both industries have experienced a recent-ish downturn due primarily to the evolution of technology, leading to a marked reduction in revenue.
And that, I believe, is where the similarities end. More