“We are steadily at work,” reported the manager, Andrew Shkolnik, who said the popular store and gathering place should reopen in November or December.
He said they just got all the book shelves for the new store and are in the process of organizing books by type, so that when they move in, they can fill the shelves quickly.
In addition to being a place to find used books, videos and music, shoppers can also find rare materials at the store. A favorite haunt, Bookman’s offered a place for groups to meet, musicians to play and people just to sit, read and sip coffee from its coffee shop.
The number of these types of businesses is decreasing since there are now so many ways to read a book, receive news and get information. McGaugh’s News Stand in downtown Flagstaff closed in 2002. People still reminisce fondly about the combined aromas from the humidor and fresh roasted popcorn. Barnes & Noble, the world’s largest bookstore, is up for sale because of record losses. Kindle and iPad allow readers to download e-books on their handheld units. In July, Amazon reported Kindle books were out- selling hardbound books. The NAU book- store is seeing an increase of e-textbook sales and it is rolling out an expanded book rental business, offering books from 40 to 50 percent less than new. Even public libraries offer e-books.
One begins to wonder if traditional, hardbound books will go the way of eight- track tapes.
“Probably eventually, but it’s really hard to say when,” Shkolnik said. “It’s like records, LPs. Every few years they say vinyl is dead and gone. Finished. Then six months later, vinyl is back. I have a feeling the same thing will happen with books.”
He said his business would definitely suffer if the big bookstores like Barnes & Noble and Borders closed.
“That would limit the amount of stuff we can get. You have to buy books new before they can be sold used,” he said.
He said that Bookman’s has begun a new service of selling books online recently and that it is going very well.
Evan Midling is the last man standing in an independent bookstore in Flagstaff and he said he doubts that hardbound books are on their way out.
“How long were eight-track tapes around? Ten years? Books have been around for 500 years,” he said.
“I am sure people will transmit information digitally in the future and there is nothing wrong with that, but books are too ingrained in the human culture and the human psyche to just disappear,” he said.
He said there is always going to be the “nostalgia factor,” like there is for vinyl records.
“People started going out and buying record players to play them,” he said. And there are always the rare book collectors. Midling has owned Starrlight Books since 1998 and managed it for two years before that for an absentee owner. The business sells new, used and rare books. It also offers original art. FbN