Letter from the editor.

Author:Phillips, Jon
Position:Letter to the editor

As the number of independent bookstores continues to dwindle, I sorely miss browsing in them--mostly because their books are selected and displayed by dedicated bibliophiles. I'm not just talking about a shelf of "staff picks" in the big chain stores; I mean the stores where you feel an editorial hand on every shelf. There may be a table of selections from an eclectic publisher or a shelf of carefully selected books on a particular topic. As you look around the independent store, it seems that each of its books has a distinct reason for being there--so you can feel the intelligence and care of the staff.

Sadly, large chain bookstores have realized there is not much profit in this approach. They make much more money by selling how-to books, calendars, and discounted remainders than they ever could by catering to connoisseurs of literary fiction. However, we do admit that Bookmarks thrives, in part, because of these chain stores' extensive newsstands. That may not be how some of you discovered us, but a great number of you did. So we don't wish to bite the hand that feeds us, and we recognize that there are many things the big-box stores do well. But we also long for a different shopping experience.

It seems we've relied too long on the charity of independent bookstore owners, many of whom funded their stores' losses out of their own pockets. It's time to share the burden. A wonderful bookstore in Menlo Park...

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