Yes, we were staggered, too. But there it is on D magazine’s blog: Adam McGill has proposed his list of favorite Dallas boosktores.
There’s nothing exceptional about the list — personally, I would swap the Preston Royal Borders for his top-rated Lincoln Park Barnes & Noble any day of the week because I hate the B&N layout and its looks (all the truly serious literature — and graphic novels — are way upstairs in back). Mercifully, the Preston Royal Borders has been mostly spared the awful computer-geek gutting that the Lovers Lane Borders underwent.
No, what’s exceptional about the list is that it spawned a spirited 53 comments in 24 hours. I agree with the commenters who thought to point out the soon-to-be independent bookstore in the Shops at Legacy. As for all those who said, forget bookstores, Amazon is the future: Actually, Amazon makes up only 10 percent of book sales. Wholesale discounters like Wal-Mart are a much bigger, much sorrier factor.
And as for why an independent bookstore could become a favorite on any serious local list, see the jump.
This is a factor that Mr. McGill and his commenters do not consider. But for now (and the foreseeable future), Salman Rushdie doesn’t come to your town for a reading because you bought a copy of his latest novel on Amazon. When major authors tour Texas, they go to Austin’s BookPeople and maybe Houston’s Brazos Bookstore — and that’s about it. They often don’t come to Dallas-Fort Worth bookstores, even though the metroplex is actually the largest book market in the region.
Publishers send authors to major independent bookstores much more often than to chain stores because major independents can deliver an audience for them. Publishers are terrified of sending authors to an empty bookstore. As you might imagine, authors hate the experience. It makes them start thinking that maybe the publisher isn’t really supporting or marketing their books — and maybe they should get another publisher.
Major independents have developed devoted followings, they have tied themselves to the local reading community through the kind of “hand selling” (personal recommendations) and social events that online retailers can’t. An independent like the late, lamented Black Images Book Bazaar has even been a significant cultural factor in the community, bringing in speakers, providing a meeting site for local groups.
Now that’s a bookstore.