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?