Kudos to Tasbeeh Herwees, senior writer at USC website Neon Tommy. The first few paragraphs of her article “The Last Bookshops of Los Angeles” offer a succinct snapshot of the seismic shift enveloping bricks-and-mortar literary merchants:
Mary Goodfader dreads a certain kind of customer. She can identify them when they pull out their Smartphones, snap photos of her “Staff Recommends” display – a selection of books curated by her employees – and leave without buying anything. They’re not her customers; they’re Amazon’s.
“They go home and order it on Amazon,” says Goodfader, “It’s very hard not to say anything to them. But if you need to save money in a bad economy…”
It really is a worst of times-worst of times Dickensian situation for people like Goodfader. Any bookstore owner or employee who challenges such a customer is likely to get a Great Recession earful.
Along with Goodfader, owner of Venice’s Small World Books (and someone fortunate to also literally own the building where the store is housed), Herwees catches up with what’s going on these days at Skylight Books in Los Feliz and Chevalier’s Books in Larchmont. A fantastic, bittersweet feature article.