"This group believes, in other words, that book buying is a widespread activity while internet access is for elites, the opposite of the actual case."
Sad but true. For now, Austin is lucky to have so many rich people who can choose where to buy books (and records and groceries), many of whom choose BookPeople. IMO, BP still banks for a few reasons: the staff, the events, and an almost altruistic (and perhaps even misguided) devotion from it’s community. It’s like the ideas in this article about becoming a nonprofit are already how the public in Austin views BookPeople, except that BP is not actually structured that way at all. That’s for the best for someone like me who takes an immense amount of joy in having a beautiful, spacious bookstore in my community, but I wonder how long it can last.
I am surprised that this post didn’t touch on the idea of smaller local businesses taking advantage of the rise of online bookbuying, ala Powells. I think this could also be a huge factor. BookPeople has been very slow to adapt to the internets the way that Powells has, but the baby steps have finally become more like toddler steps in the last year or so, with the improvement of the BookPeople blog, the development of the twitter page, etc..
Anyway, after living in Austin for twenty years and working at BookPeople for almost half of those, I have a lot of opinions about bookselling and bookstores. Some of them aren’t pretty. That said, I love independent bookstores and I really hope that the best ones can find a way to make it. I don’t think letters to the Justice Department are helping.