This week, SJ Rozan reported from Digital Book World on the Sisters in Crime blog (http://tiny.cc/SJatDBW and two other parts). Her posts are fabulous, important and thought-provoking reading for all.
I was especially struck by one of SJ's editorial notes, on session eight, the future of independent bookstores. She writes: "this session had a true-believer quality that made it hard to judge the realistic nature, or lack thereof, of what the speakers were saying."
I would turn this around. It's only because readers, writers, publishers and store owners all together shared that "true-believer quality" that we ever had a strong independent bookselling community in the first place. The book business has always been a challenging one, and independent stores survived only because all involved -- customers, shopkeepers and suppliers alike -- had an unwavering faith in the importance of what these stores were doing.
Interlopers have tested that faith, seducing both customers and suppliers with economies (real, sometimes, but more often false). But the future clearly depends on the true-believers who will continue to count on independents' knowledge, erudition, curation and passion, and on independent booksellers' connections to their communities. As the book business escapes its chains and, indeed, the entire industry becomes unbound (or is it unglued?), it's good to see the tide turning back towards independents, be it out of fear or necessity among those who have wavered or out of hope among those who've kept the faith.
Either way, it looks right now as though the future will be bright. Independents certainly face challenges and it's going to be a bumpy ride. But I do not doubt either the power or the number of true believers who sustained this industry in the past and will see it into the future.