Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Mississippi and Louisiana Bookstores in a Digital Age

 As UPM has adapted to customer demand for electronic books, we have added ten new channels for our content in the last twelve months. We currently sell electronic books and author content through outlets casual readers will recognize, such as the Amazon Kindle and the Barnes & Noble NOOK. And we advance the work of our authors into libraries and classrooms through lesser-known devices and vendors, such as the KNO Reader, library aggregators, and course pack creators.

The bookstores of Mississippi and Louisiana, our nearest and longest standing customers, are also in the midst of change. We have listened with great interest and concern to their needs and challenges. And we take heart in their irrepressible drive to adapt and serve readers in their communities and beyond.

Earlier this year, Bob Minzesheimer wrote a fine article, “Is there hope for small bookstores in a digital age?,” in USA Today about these challenges, saying, “Increasingly, consumers are ordering print books online and reading e-books delivered instantly to mobile devices and e-readers such as Amazon’s Kindle and Barnes & Noble’s Nook.”

Minzesheimer found an inspiring universal in the particular story of Suzann Hermans Oblong Books in Rhinebeck, New York. And what he describes is happening in Mississippi stores such as Lorelei Books in Vicksburg right now. “By emphasizing service,” he writes, “her store’s popularity as a community gathering spot and even a new — and somewhat counterintuitive — plan to help her customers order e-books, Hermans, 26, is betting that her small store will continue to buck prevailing winds in the book business.”

Jackson’s Lemuria began its own soul-searching quest of how to adapt and opened the query to its customer base and the worldwide web via its blog. You can follow the store’s staff and customer comments, and add your own here.

With Borders declaring that it has filed for debtor-in-possession bankruptcy earlier this year, we know the landscapes are changing fast. In Bay St. Louis, Mississippi, an independent bookstore is up for sale, and in Pass Christian another is mourning an owner’s death. Two independent bookstores closed in Corinth, Mississippi, in 2009 and 2010.

Interested readers can keep fingers on the pulse of stores in Mississippi and Louisiana via two websites. Mississippi stores are described in detail and linked to here. And Louisiana stores are described and linked to at this site.

Please visit these two websites often—UPM updates the two of them whenever the Marketing Director travels and whenever we receive news.

—Steve Yates

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