Keep Your Frenemies Close, Part I

If I had a dime for every time I’ve been asked “Did the internet kill the book business?”…….I would have a LOT of dimes.

The short answer to the question is no.  Absolutely not!  Did the internet change the book business?  Yes.  The internet changed a great many things about life as we previously knew it.  My manifesto on “the internet vs. the bookstore, but not really” can be found elsewhere in this blog, so I won’t bore you by rehashing it.

In a lot of ways, it seems we’re often in the wrong place at the right time or the right place at the wrong time. Synchronicity is often elusive, while irony points and laughs. In hindsight though, we find that the experience actually happened that way for a reason–the journey is the destination and all that crap.

2 years after I opened Inner Chapters, the word on the street was that Amazon.com was about to move its headquarters to the new shiny buildings just behind our decrepit old one.  In an instant I was about to have thousands more customers in the neighborhood than I had before; I thought, “This could seriously kick ass, or maybe it will be a total disaster.”  The outcome would depend on the character of this new homogenous group of customers.  They would either be amazing, wonderful community-supporting artsy fartsy nerds, or they would be clueless, awkward self-involved douche bags. But a customer is a customer, right?

Before this customer base transplant, our next door neighbors, a high-end fitness (Pilates) facility, were our main source of revenue.  The staff of the place were reasonably easy to get along with (there are a few exceptions–buy me a drink and I’ll tell you a story!)  Their clientele, on the other hand, tended to be a bunch of entitled divas who assumed we opened our doors to become their gourmet, cashmere doormats.  “What books? You mean I can’t get a fresh fruit, hemp protein, gluten-free, sugar-free organic smoothie here?!”  Being in the service industry for many years gives you thick skin; you can kill them with kindness to a certain point, but some of them just….won’t……DIE.  Once again, a customer is a customer, so the audacity was tolerated, if only to keep that cash drawer sliding (and the memoir/comedy routine fodder accumulating).  But I digress…..

All of a sudden, our pampered, spoiled neighbors would have some competition–gods forbid, they’d have to wait in line now!–and that, in and of itself, was satisfaction worth waiting for.

To be continued……soon!

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