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With apologies to The Beatles, I have noticed a trend lately among (I am presuming to be) fairly educated and sophisticated people on the ra...

02 October 2010

"Big Box" versus IndieBound (or, How Does It Feel? Part II)

This WSJ commentary by Peter Funt - "The Internet Might Save Main Street" is so strange, I don't know how to respond.  Will the internet be the demise of large retailers while simultaneously be the boon of small independents?

Quite interestingly, the film, "You've Got Mail," was released in 1998, the year Books on First began.  And, in fact, an early customer wrote a letter to the editor at local newspaper, The Telegraph, expounding on how the film was an updated version of an old film called The Little Shop Around the Corner,* how wonderful it was to have a bookstore of any size in Dixon, and how we should all patronize Books on First, so that we wouldn't have to read of its demise.  The "you've got mail" part of the story is the internet (AOL) update of two antagonists (one male and one female) who spent the days as co-workers verbally sparring with each other and their nights, handwriting and mailing letters through the post to a sympatico penpal who entered into his/her every feeling (in the days when most postal mail was delivered by the next day).  At the time, Barnes & Noble (Fox's in the film), was such a behemoth and such an energizing concept (a "piazza" environment for the gathering of philosophers, coffee drinkers & booklovers) that no one thought that convenient medium called the World Wide Web would be the downfall of such a giant.  Can we conclude that smaller, local independents will prevail like prairie or desert plants with seeds or roots hiding deep beneath the surface of the earth, ready to rise up when the conditions are right again?  Can indies last that long? 
*I actually recall a PBS presentation with Sam Waterston which had quite a bit of music in it (it might have even been opera-like in which all the words were sung, but sweetly, not like Pavarotti).  I don't see it in any of Waterston's bios online nor in the linked Wikipedia entry on The Little Shop Around the Corner.  Does anyone else recall this?

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