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Survival of the Bookstore

In the Center of the Omega Nebula

In the Center of the Omega Nebula
Image Credit: NASA,

A  Small Chain

Today (Saturday May 12) is graduation day here in Boulder, Colorado, home of the U of C Buffaloes. As a result the town is packed with students and visitors. Unfortunately, the weather is iffy and the thousand or so young men and women, who are about to plunge into the real world, might have to receive their diplomas in the rain if the event is not moved indoors.

Fortunately, all of this does not affect me, as I experienced my college graduation many years ago. However. it did explain why the Trident Bookstore on Pearl Street was packed full of coffee drinkers and muffin-eaters at 7:30 in the morning. With all the out-of-town visitors, this business, like many others in the downtown area are hoping for a better than average weekend, as soon-to-be graduates and their guests flock to this Rocky Mountain educational oasis.

For those of you who are familiar with the Boston area, the Trident Bookstore might ring a bell, especially if you spend any time on Newbury St. It did to me, so I asked the clerk about the Boston-Boulder connection, just to be certain I was not missing out on the emergence of the newest bookstore chain. He informed me that the two stores were started by connected entrepreneurs, but that they have long since parted ways. There was originally plans for a third store in Halifax, N.S. (that’s in Canada), but that grandiose scheme never materialized.

Homage to the Bean Tree

Can bookstores like the one I visited survive the upheaval currently being experienced currently by booksellers across the nation. My spending this morning might suggest that without the enjoyable beverage that is made from the coffee bean tree, many bookstores would go under. For example, my female companion and myself bought two cups of coffee and on half-pint container of cream that was needed for later the day. In the process of drinking our coffee, we stayed almost an hour. I alone browsed the book and magazine displays, but failed to purchase any new reading material, even though I saw many fascinating titles. I did not take a survey among early morning diners, but my hunch says that most displayed similar spending habits to mine.

Outlook For Tree Books

After leaving the bookstore, today, I visited the Boulder Public Library, where I was able to access my Smashwords account and was pleased to find that I had a few new e-book sales  pending. That bought me some pleasure, but it left me thinking, how an independent bookstore like the Trident might survive.

Selling coffee and various food items helps, but the bottom line is books – and this store had some beautiful coffee-table examples along with the standard fare of novels and what-not. After leaving the store, my first impression was that a merchant that offers a high-quality product can probably stay in business, depending of course on store location and the local economy. In both cases this bookstore seemed to be in the right place.

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