In March of 2008 I lamented the loss of McNally's Robinson's bookstore in downtown Calgary. It was hard for me to understand how such a great book store could fail in a city like Calgary. Their only competition was a small Coles store in Eaton Centre. Today the independent chain has filed for bankruptcy and will be closing their two newest stores in Don Mills and Winnipeg. (G&M Story)
Aside from Pages in Kensigton, I spent a lot of time in McNally Robinson's store. Independent book sellers are rare now and their survival always seems to be against the odds. Maybe as consumers its just easier to buy what Chapters or Oprah want us to read.
The plight of independent bookstores probably has to do with the economies of scale and the basic tough business model of retail. But I still wonder about this issue from a cultural point of view. Are we less interested in books? What about the role of the internet? I know from listening to the radio in Calgary, or reading one of the two daily papers, there is really a strong effort to dumb us down and pander to short attention spans. Book stores should be an antidote to that, and are also a cultural force that promote literacy and local authors.
Hopefully McNally Robinson can emerge from the restructuring to hang on to the original store in Winnipeg and compete on the internet as well.
Support your local independent book seller.
Please recommend this post