Thursday, July 10, 2008

Not revolutionary, but working in ag

By now, most of us know all about CSAs - community supported agriculture. This NY Times piece by Susan Saulny doesn't exactly provide shocking new info, but it's a nice reminder of how well CSAs are doing, how nicely they've caught on. As she reports, "There were fewer than 100 such farms in the early 1990s, but in the last several years the numbers have grown to close to 1,500, according to academic experts who have followed the trend."

Once again, though, as I read this latest report on successful CSAs, I wonder about something similar working for bookselling. There are "often prohibitive costs" associated with independent bookstores and publishers, just as there are with small farms, so couldn't this solution be brought in? And it has been, as reported on this blog and everywhere else, with subscriptions like McSweeney's Book Release Club , CSP at South End Press, and the arrangement with investors in Houston, at the Brazos Bookstore.

But has there been a successful collective bookstore that is not a radical lefty, kinda ratty, possibly scary bookstore, that is clean and well lighted and thriving? (Sorry Lucy Parsons, I still patronize you when I can!) With Boston real estate, it's unrealistic to expect in the city, but maybe in an outpost. I don't know if it can work, but it seems there could be a whole in the independent literary community that includes authors, publishers, booksellers, etc...

CSAs took some time but are really catching on, so there's some hope. If farmers can do it...

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