Archive for July, 2012

           It has been over two months since Dark Horse Books closed its storefront in downtown Driggs. This letter is long overdue.  First and foremost, Dark Horse Books is deeply grateful to the loyal customers, local residents, part-time residents and visitors for the past 17 years. Your pleasure and enjoyment in the bookstore made the long hours deeply satisfying. Second, a huge thank you to the bookstore customers who continue to use the Dark Horse Books internet site  (http://darkhorsebooks.mybooksandmore.com) to purchase books after the storefront closed. Let me explain a little of what has happened to the bookstore and what is the current campaign to revive the bookstore. (http://www.indiegogo.com/darkhorserebirth?a=810828#share )

After two and a half years of struggling in the current economy, it was not possible to continue at the same location. In the book business, rents should be approximately ten percent of the gross income. When the recession hit and it hit hard in January 2010, the 40% reduction in income meant that the rent at the store represented 30% of the gross. This was a difficult situation. Fortunately, most of the labor at the store was unpaid labor. Also, I was able to contribute to the bookstore from my other sources of income. But then there was the huge downtown Driggs road and sidewalk development. The summer months were critical to the overall income of the bookstore. In the summer of 2011, the bookstore gross dropped to less than 75-85 percent of the pre-recession receipts for the same months. I anticipated a loss of revenue during construction. What I didn’t anticipate was the deep drop in revenue would continue after the construction.

While the construction was hopefully a once in a lifetime occurrence, the recession has hit everyone hard. Bookstores in particular are struggling. Very similar to the massive closure of independent and chain music stores, bookstores are closing at record numbers nationwide. http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2010/12/08/bookstore-closings-of-the_n_777646.html and http://staugustine.com/news/2012-05-20/decline-independents-concerns-readers#.UAWcnZH7HaI The factors for the bookstore closures are numerous. The economy is in worst recession since the Great Depression. Too many loyal customers cannot buy books.  While many bookstores are faced with a huge decrease in sales, their landlords either are unable or unwilling to compensate with a reduction in rent.

In addition to the recession, bookstores are being hit by other factors. For years, Amazon has violated anti-trust laws to its great advantage. Amazon has used its market share to force huge discounts from publishers. As a result, publisher compensate for the loss with Amazon by charging more to the independent bookstores and chains. Second, Amazon prices the latest bestsellers at or below wholesale prices. Amazon can do this because it does not make money from its book sales. “Amazon can practically give books away to get customers, and then it can make money on them by selling them potato chips and computers,” said Shatzkin, the publishing consultant. “There’s nobody in the book business that can compete with that.”[1] Third, Amazon does not collect any sales tax for states. Fourth, Amazon is pushing the ebook market by selling the kindle for under cost and then convincing authors to allow Amazon to give away their e-books for free. For a deeper understanding of why Amazon is evil and why you should not buy from them, please read the four part Seattle Times article cite in footnote 1. Also see the great letter written by an independent bookstore owner to the Justice Department.[2]

Yet despite the current challenges in the bookstore world and in the current economy, this community and this country still need bookstores. Several communities, which have lost their local bookstores, are finding the surrounding businesses were hurt by the loss of the bookstore.[3]  But most importantly bookstores are critical to the continued health of literacy, reading and publishing in this country. Despite its huge market share, the bulk of Amazon sells are the latest bestsellers. It is the independent bookstores, which sell the lesser known authors and titles. Unknown authors become bestsellers as a result of word of mouth from local bookstores. While e-books are here to stay and definitely have some positive impacts on the book industry, it is critical to keep print books as commercially viable. Print books are more green and sustainable than ebooks. Print books can exist for centuries. Print books are critical to a secondary market of used books. Individuals, who cannot buy their books new, can buy used books. Bookstores exist to sell books. They exist because the owners love books and reading. More importantly bookstores owners want to share that love of reading. Local bookstores feature signings by local authors. Independent bookstores each year are involved in Banned Book Week, Children Books Week, Poetry Month, and World Book Night, which gave away half a million books this year. Independent bookstores are community places. Also, bookstores are thriving in other places in the world.[4]

In an effort to keep a local community bookstore, there is a campaign to relaunch Dark Horse Books through crowd funding at http://www.indiegogo.com/darkhorserebirth?a=810828#share. To retire some debt and to continue in business, Dark Horse Books is seeking donations ranging from $1.00 and up. None of this money will benefit the owners personally. The campaign is directed toward reopening the store and keeping it in the community. The new store will be different. Undoubtedly the new location will be smaller. The focus of the store will be on developing a more depth in key categories rather than having such a wide selection of categories. In particular, the children’s section will have more picture books.

There is one more week to the campaign and the monies raised are fall far short of the goal. Unless sufficient monies are raised, the money raised so far will be returned to the donors. If you cannot contribute, please be sure to share this campaign with your friends who might be able to contribute. The key to the crowd funding campaign is getting as many people involved as possible. So please if you are interested in the re-opening of Dark Horse Books, share this link with as many people as possible. http://www.indiegogo.com/darkhorserebirth?a=810828#share

Thank you







Read Full Post »

The Rebirth of Dark Horse Books

In order to reopen Dark Horse Books, I have started a campaign to raise funds with Indiegogo. This project will be used to pay off existing debt to creditors, relocate the store, and invest in some fresh inventory. The new store will focus on a less variety of subject matter and more depth in the more popular sections of the bookstore, including children picture books, local area books, and fiction. If you feel as strongly as I do that local independent bookstores are necessary for the well-being of our community and culture, please spread the word about this fund-raiser. If you are able to donate, it is greatly appreciate. Currently the minimum donation is $25.00 but I will be adding the ability to make smaller donations.

Thank you for your support over the years.


Read Full Post »