“Book Places in the Digital Age” is a piece by Tony Sanfilippo, the marketing and sales director for Penn State University Press that appears in The Digital Digest: the Electronic publishing news from the AAUP Digital Publishing Committee. As many are voicing concerns about the continued viability of bookstores, Mr. Sanfilippo offers a thoughtful proposal that he hopes might arrest “the downward spiral of the bookstore in America”.
Going through a number of imaginary scenarios, he proposes a new model for bookstores as a “place” that includes an Espresso Book Machine and displays of used and rental books along side new titles – with the various purchase options clearly posted. His bookstore also has annual memberships that offer free borrowing of any book in the store as well as DRM-free ebook editions for many of the titles. He further suggests that “maybe publishers should treat indies like showrooms, and send their books to indies on consignment.” In such a model “only if and when a book sells is money paid to the publisher.”
But this isn’t just talk. Mr. Sanfilippo is taking action. He is putting “my money where my mouth is” by experimenting with a bookstore in Berkeley, CA to implement some of his ideas. Mr Sanfilippo has “sent them 200 of our books, on consignment, and … giving them the flexibility to price those books” as a start in transitioning to this new bookstore model.
Admittedly, Mr Sanfilippo perspective is that of a University Press publisher and he is focusing on independent bookstores. However, ones suspects that unconventional ideas like his are needed if bookstores are to have a future.
Tom Gilson. Test Bio