We all know that independent bookstores are riding a dangerous wave in today’s economy: some dance; some drown.
There’s a nice bookshop in Hudson, Wisconsin, called Chapter2Books. It’s at 422 Second Street, on the bank of the St. Croix River, at the border with Minnesota. And all 842 square feet of it is struggling.
Sue and her husband Brian set up shop in Summer 2011, after Brian lost his job managing a credit union because of a merger with a larger firm. They launched their little bookstore with high hopes and higher rents.
Sue understands that people think Amazon is cheaper, but, as she says,”Cheap is not cheap. Cheap books=no indies=no story hour for the babies at the shop=no support for local authors=no writing groups=no forum for national authors to come to town=no special, hand picked books, just bestsellers you can find anywhere=noone to personally make a connection with your reluctant reader=no indie store participating in chamber and town events, etc. etc. etc. Is that download on Amazon really worth it?”
“I’ve realized in the last few weeks that I have become a curator of books,” Sue said. “It actually is an important function to help people, whether they’re looking for a gift book or expanding what their kids are reading.”
For his part, Brian opened the doors to local authors: self published, house published, prospective writers and all. Not only did they set up a writing group, but when self-published authors came to do book talks, if the turnout was low, Brian slipped a $20 here or there from his own dwindling wallet and went to merchants up and down the street, suggesting they stop in, listen a few minutes, and buy the book.
That kind of human touch doesn’t come from cyber-deals.
“This bookshop was our prayer to the universe,” Sue said. “Brian spent 30 years in banking, and then we got to do this. We advise customers and listen to their needs and all the things you talk about in your book, Wendy, and yet, now….I’m mad, I’m sad, I’m frustrated, I’m devastated, I’m heartbroken, I’m terrified.”
Can we afford to lose another small town store–a BOOKstore–folks? Do we really want another one to bite the dust?
Perhaps we can help. Could you repost this information – whole blog, condensed piece, whatever you can. Here are some basics: The shop is open from 10-5. Mon-Wed and Saturday, 10-7 Thurs and Fri, and 11-5 Sundays. Their website is http://www.chapter2books.com/. Thanks for doing what you can. Sue and Brian support their community. They could use some nice email (Brian@chapter2books.com; Sue@chapter2books.com), Tweets @chapter2books, and LIKEs on Facebook to boost morale–and spread the word that they’re standing, ready, to serve booklovers along the St. Croix River. Thanks!