Teaching for Change Featured in Front Porch Journal
Front Porch interviewed four booksellers, including Teaching for Change’s Publications Director Don Allen, “to examine the many forces that shape literature, and to highlight the perceptive and passionate people to whom we owe the books on our shelves.”
Front Porch: How’s business?
Don Allen: The bookstore is very popular. We receive great foot traffic from Busboys and Poets, but bookselling is a tough industry with small markups. Our sales are strong enough to keep us afloat on a weekly basis but not strong enough to pay back our start-up expenses. We are also extremely concerned about Amazon’s efforts to undermine independent bookstores.
FP: What is the most enjoyable thing about being in the bookselling business?
DA: Even with all of the so-called new media out there, books still have the potential to be the most powerful medium of them all. Complex ideas are explored over hundreds of pages and over several days, giving the ideas time to sink in and take root, changing a person. Being exposed to an idea or concept through social media or an article just doesn’t have the same impact. Meeting authors who yield this power wisely is still a thrill.
FP: What is the hardest part about being in the bookselling business?
DA: First and foremost, it is hard to convince people that a company like Amazon is not acting in their best interests. Sure, it is cheap, but only in the short term. As Amazon uses unfair pricing and proprietary electronic book readers to drive independent booksellers out of business, the industry will produce fewer books because there will be fewer outlets. Plus, unless people learn to support local, community bookstores, they will not have a place to hear authors, share ideas, and organize. A world with only an online marketplace and virtual social organizing will be a poorer place with less chance of creating positive social change.
Read full article at www.frontporchjournal.com.
June 7, 2010