When independent bookstores were in a healthier state, staff picks and hand selling could bring attention to great books people didn't know they wanted. Now that's much harder."***************
The shrinking of that market share has certainly been severe. The number of independent bookstores in America has more than halved in the past two decades. The pleasure of browsing shelves stocked with care and intelligence by independent owners of stores like Midnight Special in Santa Monica, Cody's in Berkeley and the Coliseum in Manhattan is only a memory.
Blocked at every turn in their attempts to escape this relentless race to the bottom, publishers have seen their revenues fall, forcing many to make cutbacks and concentrate more on lead titles, the blockbusters that, accountants tell them, are the most profitable component of their business. Fewer staff and falling promotion budgets mean that books by less established authors—the "mid-list"—receive ever shorter shrift.***************
"If left unchecked...predatory pricing policies will devastate not only the book industry, but our collective ability to maintain a society where the widest range of ideas are always made available to the public."