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Is This the Bookstore of Tomorrow?

Novelist Moriah Jovan has some ideas about where independent bookselling needs to head if it’s going to survive, and she’s not holding back. “You booksellers have been rolling around on the back of the consignment system like it’s catnip for too long—and it’s still going to bite you in the butt,” she complains… then again, “you publishers are doing everything you can to stymie ebooks and are determined to cling to your outmoded ways.” Jovan’s come up with a plan, though, for a bookstore without books.

The blueprint below makes a bit more sense if you remember that “Espresso” doesn’t refer to a coffeemaker, but to the print-on-demand device that can deliver a freshly bound book within minutes.

espresso-blueprint.jpg

“You want a book you can hold in your hands,” Jovan fantasizes. “You go to Quaint Bookstore and they do not have what you want in their meager stock. NO PROBLEM! You sit down at one of the book stations. You browse the computer catalog (probably Ingram or Baker & Taylor ). You pick your book. You punch in your credit card number (tied to the store’s point-of-sale system). The order goes directly to one of the Espresso machines behind you. You wait 10 or 15 minutes (by which time you’ve probably already ordered another 3 books), and out pops your book. You are GOOD TO GO.”

Jovan’s dream store also allows customers to test drive e-book readers, and maybe even keeps a few old-timey books around on a second floor, for those booksellers who aren’t ready to let go completely. So what do you think? Is this where bookstores are headed? Is it where they should be headed?

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