A Chapter too Many?

Ambivalent, n. 1. uncertainty or fluctuation, esp. when wanting simultaneously to pursue two courses of action, characterized by a mixture of opposite feelings or attitudes: “they don’t seem to know anything about business, but they sell books which I love”


Making regional and now national news, The life of Wordsmiths Bookstore in Decatur, Georgia has been short and far from sweet.  After opening in a rather strange downtown location, in a rather strange building, with a strange setup, with even stranger marketing and signage, the store moved to Decatur square last year.

The move seems to have been too little too late, however, and Wordsmiths is in danger of closing.  The Atlanta Journal-Constitution carried a rather too kind article on their plight last week (here).  And NPR got on the bandwagon yesterday.  NPR’s slightly-better four-minute story may be found here.

You can read the sob story on the front page of the Wordsmiths site, but basically they are a failing for-profit business and asking for donations to stay in business.  If they can make it till Labor Day, they said, they’ll be fine and dandy and can take it from there themselves.  Right.

Now I’m all for bookstores, especially locally owned independent stores.  In fact, they’re probably my favorite stores in all the world (REI coming in a close second, hmm, and the Apple store too).   But Wordsmiths hasn’t done much to gain my trust.

  • Their business savvy is silly.  Opening where they did, like they did, was a horrible choice and probably should doom them.
  • I don’t hear much kind about them in the community.  Actually, I hear things that makes me question the character of the operation.
  • Their book selection, though significant in numbers, is of paltry quality.  If you need a good read, I’d recommend Little Shop of Stories ( a truly good store) 100 yards away
  • Their vision for what the store should/can be remains naive

On the other hand, I love bookstores.  I feel sorry for the owners and employees, and it’d be a blessing for Decatur to have a solid independent (adult) bookstore.  That said, someone with better business and book sense may come along later, and open a truly successful Decatur store.  

I’m not jumping to donate to their for-profit cause, but I’m not quite willing them to fail either.  What do you think?


  1. miguelote says

    i think i’m surprised that adam copeland is pushing for decatur to have an adult bookstore. the only thing worse than adult bookstores are coyotes.

  2. says

    Do remember, “adult bookstore” is only to distinguish between Wordsmiths and Little Shop of Stories. Wordsmiths appeals to adult readers. Little Shop, to children.

    Can’t say I understand the coyotes reference, but I’d guess the blogosphere will.

  3. says

    Bookstores need to have something special about them to survive the competition from Amazon and other online book retailers. I rarely buy books in a store now… unless I am on holiday… I just go to browse or to have a nice cup of coffee…

  4. says


    It is important to note that I am not a tard, nor am I any kind of intellectual genius. I am human and humans can make mistakes. Is it anybody’s responsibility to help me save my bookstore? No. Can I ask for help? Sure. Am I asking for donations? Yes. Am I going to offer those who help something in return (credit, gift card, discounts) so that they aren’t just tossing money at me? Yes. That said, I don’t expect everybody to jump on the bandwagon and you may do as you choose. This location, where I wanted to be from the start, is a wonderful place and we are succeeding. I have only asked for the opportunity to be able to continue to do so here.

    I really just wanted to have the chance here to open some dialogue about it. You seem to have misjudged me as an individual. I’m not that bad of a person.

  5. says

    Thanks for commenting, Zach. I was careful not to make any slights on any individuals in my post. I guess I can understand if you took it that way, but not my intention nor my follow-through. That said, I’m so not cool with the word “tard” which you used. Definitely not showing much respect for those who are differently abled. Common man, us reader should so be past that.

    If you do succeed, and certainly part of me hopes you do, I’d really hope there could be some strong community-building in the near future. As far as I can tell, there’s a very mixed community spirit towards Wordsmiths at the moment. In a small community like Decatur, in economic times such as these, it’s a dangerous thing to single one local business out above the others. If you succeed, there will be surely be local folks – especially those free marketers – hesitant to support you down the road.

    Finally, just a point related to your specific project. I’d be much more likely to donate were the donations connected to a specific gift card/discount/whatever. Sure, it’s all speculation, but just in terms of how I look at purchases, I’d be much more apt to take the chance if it were for a specific item or benefit.

    Peace and best of luck.

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