Day 172-- on bookstores

Borders Inc. has a new CEO, George Jones. He's changing the company a lot (when he's not writing country mus--oh, different guy?). This morning, my manager at the bookstore was showing me some of the material they went over in a meeting last week, and it's been on my mind all morning.

Since I remember something in my contract about not divulging information blah blah blah, I'll leave many of the details out. But George Noncountry Jones is trying to steer the company into a more profitable place; and while all of the changes seem like they'll do this, many of them aren't good in any long-term way (and I don't mean long-term in the fiscal sense).

The report scared me, and not only because of the almost clinical and liberal use of lengthy acronyms and words like "execution" and "customer loyalty base." They want to move slightly away from in-store book sales and focus on some other areas ("embrace technology," using their language). They also want to encourage a more community-like atmosphere--this seemed great on paper, but it struck me as an artificial appeal to human needs. And in short, the company is focusing on its strengths, but in many ways becoming more alien and cold in their approach to everything.

The bells of localism and community are ringing, I hear, rousing me from my stupor. I keep thinking about The Bookstore I want to open some day. I keep thinking about what its strengths could be, its weaknesses. I keep thinking about who it would draw in. I keep thinking of how it could work, how it could fail. Opening a coffee shop in our community is an amazing thing, and one that really is taking off; but what would the response be to a probably-small bookstore? Maybe I should stop worrying and put trust in Whom trust should be given.

posted, with grace and poise, by Jason @ 2/24/2007 12:55:00 AM,


At 11:43 PM, Blogger Big Al said...

I remember, I believe, John Perkins or his friend Wayne Gordon talking about assets within a community. They talked about how a business or a local store front window is not there to profit but there to aid. This may mean giving and giving and never receiving and barely making it. But what are we here for?

I question this, as I too, have looked into a business idea. Then, I ask, when and where do we pull in others to foster a community based store, a co-op, or a support/ministry type of atmosphere where people come in and volunteer or recognize the greater need.

In other words...I think your bookstore is getting refined and well on it's way to something prosperous and beneficial...don't be discouraged.

(if some people where smart they would join in with your concept and allow students to sell and exchange, as well as aid in your selling of certain books for certain classes...for example, Jayber Crow by Wendell Berry)

At 11:44 PM, Blogger Big Al said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

At 11:23 AM, Blogger joeldaniel said...

it's funny that while reading your post i thought of jayber crow, and then that al should go and beat me to then mention.

but i was specifically thinking of the context of his barbershop. and how reading that booked challenged my thinking of bigger is better, of profit is good, of worth is found in numbers or consumption. in reality, it seems, goodness is found in pursuing those things that resonate deepest in you. and of course it's handy when they pay for themselves, too. the tricky part is finding that strange place where there's thrill to pursue finally outweighs the tension holding you back.

At 10:30 PM, Blogger Stacey said...

If The Bookstore has online ordering capability, or "email Jason and tell him I want something" ordering capability, I'll support your venture.

Hope life is treating you well :-)


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