Saturday, May 27, 2006


A Busy Week at Stubble HQ

I have a long article examining the economics of the chain v. indies bookstore battle in this week's Village Voice, a piece on the invention and influence of the cash register over at New Scientist, and a... peculiar article about that whole Times fiction poll coming up over at The Stranger.

The great revelation to me in researching the Voice article was that the chain v. indie fight has been going on for well over a century now; in many ways, only the names have changed. One tidbit not included in my Voice piece came from a well-informed veteran bookseller who shall remain nameless; he told me about BookStop, a long-forgotten 1980s bookstore chain. The bookseller was convinced that the reason BookStop could charge such low prices was because it wasn't actually pursuing profits. Huh?

It wasn't really a bookstore at all, he explained, but a speculation in retail real estate. I don't think they cared at all about books, he said -- they were just looking to get acquired.

Barnes & Noble acquired BookStop for $41.5 million in 1989....

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