Do You Think Book Selling is Headed Towards Monopoly?
When I was a little girl, I loved playing Monopoly with my sister. Collecting those green houses and the cards with purple or yellow strips at the top. I loved getting my $200 when I passed "Go." And I loved the little metal playing pieces, especially the dog.
The point of the game was, of course, to win.
In the world of book selling, I wonder if there's a game of Monopoly going on. And I wonder, is there going to be one clear winner in the end?
I've been having this conversation with various book sellers and book promoters like Hearts and Minds, Eighth Day Books, Elliott Bay, and Englewood Review of Books. I will continue to have the conversation with them as the months go on, particularly as part of my work with The High Calling, where we're interested in the idea of keeping the game open to multiple players, rather than having The Win go to one major book seller like, say, Amazon.
We are interested in this because good business usually needs multiple players. There is something inherently unsettling about a monopoly. We are interested in this because we like the humanity and passion we see behind businesses that really are "more than a bookstore," as Hearts and Minds claims.
Right now, I don't have any grand ideas about how to make this a better game, but I'm playing around with things like IndieBound. Today, I am also showing Elliott Bay how I can make a widget that will send people to their store, so to speak.
My page on IndieBound also showcases the other booksellers I'm in contact with, see?
We'll be continuing this conversation at The High Calling and behind the scenes. But I wonder...
• what do you think about the book selling landscape right now?
• do you think it's okay to have a monopoly?
• if you don't think it's okay to have a monopoly, what tempts you to promote One Big Winner over others? (I have my reasons, but I'd love to hear yours.)