What's Up and Coming with West Coast Bookstores?
Lori said she has been talking to some show promoters and they're all struggling. "I think that the internet has had a big impact on bookselling. Some book dealers are willing to take over for the show promoters so we can continue to have shows." I asked about the future of the biz. "We might eventually not have many brick and mortar stores. Rents are so high in California and taxes are not good for small business people. We hope things get better. Workman's Comp. and real estate will have to change and not be so expensive if we are going to keep brick and mortar stores."
I noted that most of the dealers I know and have talked to at the show were about 45-70 years old, myself included, and I asked Lori if she is seeing a lot of new, young faces in the book business; and if she felt that they were people who really knew anything about books, or were only retail clerks nowadays. She said she agreed that there weren't many. She compared the antique part of her business where she said, "I see a lot of turnover, people retiring but other younger people who come in. I don't see that many in the book business and I do five book shows a year."
I was starving by that time, so I grabbed a bit of lunch at the Gunul's J. Street Café which is just a short distance from the Scottish Rite Building wherein the book fair was housed. They have really great European Bistro-type food with a Californian and Mediterranean touch. I recommend their individual pizzas.
Back at the Temple, the show was going great guns. Fat and happy, I picked my next victims, or rather, interviewees, two folks from Talent, Oregon, Robert Gavora and Susan Lupkin who specialize in railroads - especially in the West, illustrated children's books, western Americana, sci-fi, and other general titles.
Robert didn't start in the book business until he was 40 and has been in the business full time for 23 years (though he doesn't look his age.) He plans to stay a few more years. He doesn't have an open store and does his business strictly online and at shows. "I started with mail order catalogs and when the internet came along I simply switched over. People do stop by appointment now and then, though, and I get some phone orders."