Ada’s Technical Books shows how bookstores can survive in an e-book world
November 8, 2013 | 12:39 pm
Here’s an interesting story about a Seattle bookstore that’s moving into new quarters—the quarters used by an old Seattle bookstore that moved. Ada’s Technical Books is moving into the old Horizon Books house.
The article has plenty of interesting detail about the renovations made to the old house, including adding plenty of outlets for laptop use, but the part that I found most notable was this:
[Co-owner and manager Danielle] Hulton had never worked as a bookseller before, and she credits Ada’s success in part to her lack of experience in the field. She sounds jaw-droppingly optimistic for a bookstore owner. "Books aren’t going away," she says, and, ever the jovial science nerd, she’s done the research to back up that claim. She knows that to run a bookstore, you can’t compete with the quantity of online booksellers, but you can know your stock, specialize, and ensure the quality of the titles you carry. (Hulton refuses to carry the "for Dummies" series of books, for instance, because there are too many intelligent, useful science guides for beginners that don’t insult their readers right there in the title.)
Ada’s also sells used books and e-books, the staff can order any book in print, and when I ask if there’s anything Hulton couldn’t incorporate into her goal to make Ada’s the bookstore of the future, she laments that the technology does not quite exist yet for customers to scan a hard copy of a book and buy the e-book directly from the retailer while standing in the store. She’s confident that will be a reality one day, hopefully soon.
It sounds like she’s got some pretty sensible ideas when it comes to ensuring the future of her bookstore in an e-commerce, e-book world. (And business must be doing pretty well, if she and her husband were able to afford to pay nearly a million dollars to buy the house, plus whatever extra they spent renovating it!) It’s also interesting that she is looking forward to “technology…to scan a hard copy of a book and buy the e-book directly from the retailer.” It would take a bit more than technology for that to become feasible, given the lawsuits over Google Books wanting to do basically that very thing.