Friday, January 25, 2008

Though I think I hate the WSJ...

this story is a good one. Mind you, however, that they will probably make you pay for this article after today, maybe after this afternoon, so get it while you can and please don't hold me responsible when "the man" at WSJ starts blocking access. I mean, they are the main news source for capitalists everywhere.

Which is why it's all the more surprising - but not, also - to see this story by Nathaniel Popper, about the new model of ownership happening with bookstores around the country. It starts by talking about the struggles faced by independent bookstores, and then:
But these days, a number of independent bookstores have been drawing more than pity from devotees. From Chicago to Brooklyn, N.Y., and from Houston to Eugene, Ore., loyal customers have been stepping up and putting down serious cash to save their neighborhood bookstores. These individuals see themselves more as donors than investors, committed to saving the ambiance and personal service of their local store.
I suppose one might see that as similar to Community Support Agriculture (CSA), where people pay a subscription to a farm and then get produce. But in this case, you are an investor, which I suppose might involve dividends? It's really more about keeping someplace you love in business, for yourself and your community. It's one of the most joyfully anti-Republican things one can do.

And it's not just a trickle-down (pardon me), peter pan system:
The contributors to the stores are often well off. John Turturro, an actor who became an investor in Brooklyn's Community Bookstore, had the disposable income to spare. But another of the store's seven investors, Rebeccah Welch, took out a loan with her partner against their apartment to kick in $10,000. "It's not as though we have extra money," says Ms. Welch. "We invested because it's almost like an educational institution; it's an anchor for the community."
I like that term, "an anchor." I went into the Brazos Bookstore in Houston, which is mentioned in the article: "At Brazos Bookstore, near Rice University in Houston, 25 people put up a minimum of $10,000 each to buy the store from the owner who was ready to close it in June 2006." I asked the manager about the set-up and she seemed quite pleased with the whole thing. I was there on a random weekend in February and business seemed to be moving right along.

And now I want to invest a bookstore - with what money? Who cares, my neighborhood is in desperate need of an anchor. Somehow, designer boutiques just don't feel comfortable to me.

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