Print Vs. Techonology Part Two: Bookstores Work to Stay Afloat in the Digital Age

Updated 3 years ago

The shop around the corner of Elm and Main Streets in Yarmouth is where Amy McNaughton lives her dream.”Everybody said are you absolutely crazy,” she confesses.It’s also a place where others can live out their own dream, lost in a good book.”We do children’s readings two mornings a week. We have a craft time every Saturday morning.”Royal River Books is a labor love for McNaughton.”I want to live in a town that has a Main Street with a hardware store and a bookstore and a variety store.”She opened the independent bookstore four years ago because she wanted to give her neighbors a place to escape.”That time Amazon had already changed the market quite a bit, the box stores were already around so I knew I really had to cater to the community here in Yarmouth to create a community resource than a profit generating retail store.”Last year, Borders, the nation’s second largest book retailer, closed its stores it left thousands without jobs and readers without a place to turn.Earlier this year, Maine lost an independent chain, Mr. Paperback.Mcnaughton knew her shop had a void to fill.”When Borders closed, I did some other things in the store at the same time, but my business essentially doubled.”Royal River Books is one of several stores that sells books from Dean Lunt’s Islandport Press, a local publishing company.Mcnaughton also branched out by selling stationary and creating book clubs for her customers.She says it’s something lacking in the digital age, which is one of the reasons she hopes others will step inside instead of going online.”We’re hoping to continue that trend and really reach out and try and grab more of those customers that were used to going to the big box and try to drive them to the independents”While pumping money into the local economy.”More money stays within your community when you shop locally you meet more of your neighbors, you’re out and about” As digital sales continue to rise, Lunt and McNaughton agree there’s still a need for a paperback book but they say certain genres will be replaced.”Textbooks, I can’t imagine they’ll be printed textbooks…romance novels, mystery novels, any book you read once,” Lunt said.At Husson University in Bangor, bookstore manager Janet Frankcouer says that’s already happening with their ebook program, Cafescribe.”We went from about a 17-hundred unit sales to over 7,000 in our last academic year,” she said.It’s an option that’s both inexpensive and sustainable for students.”Over 7,000 eBooks sold alone in the Northeast. That’s 7,000 textbooks not going out into a landfill or sitting on a shelf,” Frankcouer explained.Proving the trends in the battle of print versus techonology are far from the final chapter.”Our students now in grade schools are learning on computers ealier and doing more and more. As those students progress in middle school, high school and into college, I think it’s an expectation.”Monday, textbook publisher Houghton Mifflin announced it is filing for chapter 11 bankruptcy to eliminate more than three million dollars in debt.According to last year’s census, the percentage of our country’s adults with an e-reader doubled from an estimated 14 million to 28 million.


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