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  1.  (9389.1)
    I've been buying books from my local bookstore for going on a decade and in the past two years they seem to have halved the amount of sci-fi and fantasy they stock and reduced the amount of literature the sell in favour of the popular fiction.

    Is this a broader trend or is it just my store? Have they actually changed the composition of their stock or is it all in my head? Am i just becoming snobbish in what i read? Where are the Snowdens of yesteryear?
    • CommentAuthorFlabyo
    • CommentTimeJan 8th 2011
    I don't think it's a general trend. Foyles in London (on Charing Cross Road) recently doubled the size of their sci-fi and fantasy section, and the Guildford branches of Waterstone's have also increased theirs lately.
    • CommentAuthormanglr
    • CommentTimeJan 8th 2011
    Depends upon what type of local bookstore you mean, I guess.

    I've not been able to shop at a Barnes and Noble for years as they only seem to carry to most basic publications for mass consumption. Whenever possible I look for a good independent bookstore and try to figure out what their buyers like to focus on. Harvard Books in Cambridge is my favorite fallback position at this point.

    But a lot of what I read is so odd that Amazon is the most common outlet for me in many instances.
  2.  (9389.4)
    I buy a lot of books from charity shops. Loads of shite in em but there are some gems if you dig
  3.  (9389.5)
    I should add a little more context to what i mean by local. It's a largely Australian franchise called Dymocks, their stores being tiny in comparison to the average Barnes & Noble or Borders. And the city in which the store is located is only a few hundred thousand, currently there are no second-hand booksellers in the city and the charity shops don't even warrant a browse.

    It's not that i can't use amazon or the book depository or hop on a train and hit up some fantastic book stores in Sydney, but rather i'd like to support a locally owned business that i've been going to for years. But lately they seem to be making it hard for me to spend my money.
    • CommentAuthorTwist
    • CommentTimeJan 8th 2011
    There are a number of second hand bookstores in Melbourne which is why you should relocate!

    Dymocks has bitten it, Angus and Robertson isn't much better, Border's range has gone to shit... actually most chain stores have really bit the dust everywhere. Even specialist stores aren't doing so well in some cases. Its the pits.
  4.  (9389.7)
    And the Australian book market tends to be shite anyway. Everything's ridiculously overpriced, so the chain stores tend to stock only the popular mainstream stuff that they know people will still shell out for.
  5.  (9389.8)
    Borders seems to carry just about everything I want; if they dont have it they're always willing to order it. Theyve even gotten me text books and academic publications in the past.
  6.  (9389.9)
    Bookstores stock the books that people buy. And what people buy changes wildly from year to year and place to place. Just because your local shop is stocking less of the books you consider to be of value does not mean that the quality of local bookstores is declining.
    • CommentTimeJan 8th 2011
    The B&N store here used to have it's sci-fi/fantasy/graphic novel section in the back corner nearly. Now I notice they've shifted it toward the front middle of the store just last fall or so...hmmm, coinicdence concerning the popularity of "geek" media the last year or three or more?

    As for a decline, haven't really noticed this at any of the three chain bookstores we have or the local used book stores. Still the selection at the chain stores has pretty much maintained it's mixed bag (I'm fucking spoiled by Amazon, I'll admit it - big time!) selection. I can always find something anywhere though that looks interesting if I look hard enough, just don't like paying full cover price for just about anything anymore so I look for sales, recent releases, classics etc. And magazines are the worst. Lately every time I find one that looks interesting it's the only one and looks like ten people already read it. Is that a decline?
    • CommentTimeJan 18th 2011
    It's certainly an ugly trend in the states. Borders (the original, one true Borders) was once one of the finest bookstores in the US. Now even the original store is shit, as Borders and B&N compete each other into the ground. In the meantime, half the small bookstores in town have vanished. It's a lose, lose, lose situation.
    • CommentAuthorD-
    • CommentTimeJan 18th 2011
    Here all the libraries don't have a lot of science fiction and fantasy books. They always have a very small section with the same five titles.
  7.  (9389.13)
    It's a curious thing to hear people talk about "the decline of bookstores" from the other side of the counter. (I work at a Barnes and Noble.) Even among the chain stores, there's such a dependence on finding good people that I think it's hard to generalize about overall quality. I personally think our store has some awesome people and a pretty good selection, and there are other stores in the same district that simply don't measure up to any standard. I find Borders' stores to be uniformly empty of actual booksellers, even at the flagship location near me with their vaunted digital selection - there's no one to help you if you have a question about the devices they sell.

    Amazon has really ruined the public's taste for paying full price for books, though -- m3t4lfi3nd is right. Even has to basically match their prices, and then we get indignant customers complaining that it's cheaper on our own website, and we don't price match. (They don't get that a brick-and-mortar storefront costs a lot more money to run than a digital one.) I'm not that surprised about magazines, though; the business model there's been broken for years. I'd estimate that we simply throw away 80% of what you see on a typical newsstand. Lots of browsing, no buying -- if anyone's interesting in the umpteenth variation on "house and home" magazines at all.
    • CommentTimeJan 19th 2011
    What David said. I work at a Waterstone's and have had the same experiences with customers. Amazon prices have ruined them for paying full price. Plus, supermarkets have gotten into the game pretty heavily, carrying a lot of popular titles at very competitive prices. Most bookshops panic and make hysterical moves, which, in the end, contribute to shrinking their range in favour of the popular drivel that sells. This creates a vicious cycle as it caters to and also conditions the public taste.

    I work at a relatively small store, where I run the SF section among other things, and I still try to order in as much as possible and merchandise it as well as I can, considering the limited amount of space I have. It doesn't always sell but that's part of the game.

    And yes, bookshops can order almost everything for you, often much quicker than Amazon.

    Same here about magazines, too. We end up recycling almost 90% of what we stock.
    • CommentAuthorjcfiala
    • CommentTimeJan 19th 2011
    Bookstores in Denver seem to be doing pretty well - We've got B&N and Borders fighting it out, but we've also got local chain The Tattered Cover as well as lots of one-location stores, both new and used, or both in some cases.

    I'm a little puzzled by Borders and B&N pulling in toys and games into their stores - if I want to buy Legos, I usually just go to the Lego store, and if I want a board game, we've got some seven hobby gaming stores in town, so I'd go to one of those. I just shrug, walk past, and go for whatever I'm there for.

    But I don't expect to be buying much in the next month or so, because I got so many cool books for holiday.
  8.  (9389.16)
    There's an incredibly good small bookshop in Oxford called the Albion Beatnik, it's so good that it feels like it can't possibly make any money and must just be being run as a social project.
  9.  (9389.17)
    If you're in Toronto, visit the Acadia Book Store on East Queen, just east of Sherbourne. Loads of excellent out-of-print art books by Vallejo, Frazetta, Moebius, Bisley, Giger, Sienkewicz, Burne Hogarth and about a million others.
      CommentAuthorCorey Waits
    • CommentTimeJan 19th 2011 edited
    I jumped on the Amazon bandwagon early exactly because bookshops in Australia are rather shit. Now of course we have fishpond and bookdepository shipping for free, so I don't use Amazon.

    Borders in Brisbane was good last time I checked, and there's a store in the city called Pulp Fiction which is all about Sci-Fi and Fantasy, and there's a store in West End called Avid Reader which is great for more literary type stuff.

    But I live on the Gold Coast, and I'm usually only in Brisbane when I'm seeing a gig (ie, at night when all the bookshops are shut), so I shop online.
    I got given an Angus & Robertson voucher for my birthday in '09 and I literally couldn't find anything in the shop that interested me. I had to ask them to order something in for me (and the irony of that being that I almost certainly could have gotten it far cheaper if I'd ordered it online myself, but I had to spend the voucher somehow).

    But I understand how difficult it can be - parallel import restrictions keep prices high from Australian suppliers making online so much cheaper, which means the bookshops simply can't afford to stock niche books (and apparently good sci-fi, like PKD, Vonnegut, Gibson [who I would have thought were well-known enough to be mainstream] are niche).
    • CommentAuthormanglr
    • CommentTimeJan 20th 2011
    I'l echo scs' comment above about the decline in the original Borders. Prior to them become a chain, that was bar none the best book store anywhere (in the pre-internet no-Amazon days). I don't get out to Ann Arbor as often as I'd like, but that store has been a wasteland for some time now, which is just a shame.

    (In other Ann Arbor news, I was also sad to see the great Shaman Drum bookshop close a year or so that had really picked up the mantle that Border's vacated.)
    • CommentTimeFeb 14th 2011
    I managed what amounted to a second hand bookshop for over a year, and learnt a lot about the trade; in the UK at least. The second-hand and independents tend to be full of shit here, but it's often a desperate, clawing response to the bottom falling out of the antiquities market. Most little bookshops (you know the sort, like they're just a hobby) used to do good trade in this department; often half their profits coming from rarities and other expensive items, but people don't really buy them any more.

    It never ceases to amaze me how little second hand books go for nowadays, even those you'd think would be expensive.

    Add this to a global recession that's been with us for years (if you're young or one of the futureless graduate types that emerged in the noughties), and the fact that what most people define as "quality books" are usually read by people smart enough to know you can buy second hand books for pennies online, they're left catering to people after romance, crime and mass-market thrillers. Those people go through books like I do cigarettes, but the books they read look like (and often are) shit to people who either favour different genres, a level of "literary quality", or innovation. Or all three.

    TL;DR - In a sense, small bookshops have "improved" in quality as they're surviving a difficult time by selling lots of books to demographics that, while looked down upon, read and thus spend voraciously.

    At least, that's where the decline in quality seemed to stem from to me!