Michelle Wittle On Gobble Gobble

Michelle Wittle On

This isn’t a blog about Thanksgiving. I know the title is misleading. However, it is about the gobbling up of small business by big business.

If you haven’t heard already, Robin’s Bookstore (13th and Board Street) is closing its doors. After 73 years of being Philadelphia’s oldest INDEPENDENT bookseller, the store will be gone. As the store is preparing for the end, the remaining books will be sold at a discounted price.

This saddens me.

I have seen many independent booksellers close their doors and all I can do is shake my head or maybe even stand out in the middle of the street and scream “why.”

I always hated going into those bookstores in their last days because it just feels so sad. I always felt like I was picking at their bones. I also felt like a cheapy mccheapy pants. But I just can’t stand books without homes. Also, I know that buying those remaining books helps out the seller…even if it was just a small amount.

But why does this keep happening? Why are small businesses being destroyed by big businesses? Is it the Internet?

I remember when I was in London and I had the best time when I visited the antique booksellers. I was able to talk with a real person and ask his opinion on things. This one older gentleman and I had a lovely discussion on how London felt about Sylvia Plath and Ted Hughes. It was completely awesome getting that personal opinion on a subject very near and dear to my heart. Also, he showed me a few rare books I wouldn’t have seen if he didn’t take the time to speak with me.

A big bookstore can’t do that. The employees can’t take five minutes to talk with you. The stores are so micro managed that I feel they forget about what is really important…the love of books and talking to people.

Again, I am sad that Philadelphia is loosing a great asset to the local literary community. I know that Larry Robin will still be looking for ways to help bring this community together. However, I just wish it wasn’t necessary to give up such a great place for writers and book lovers.

4 thoughts on “Michelle Wittle On Gobble Gobble

  1. Sorry to hear Robin’s is going. I’m old enough to remember Leary’s, but, to be honest, I’m conflicted on this issue. It would be nice if these independent book stores could be there when we want them, but at the same time Amazon has been such a boon to the book business. As a history buff looking at the 200 or so books I’ve accumulated, some on very obscure topics like a single Supreme Court case, I’d never have found a fraction of them were it not for Amazon. Same goes for the Native American literature I love. It’s true you can’t replace the human factor, and I miss that along with the distinctive book store smell. On the other hand, when I read a book review in one of my history periodicals about some obscure case of American Indian law, I just type it in on Amazon and 99.9% of the time it’s there to buy.

  2. Nanette:
    You bring up some great points. The internet has its many uses, but it is hard to get that human contact from a web browser:(
    Thank you so much for your imput. 🙂

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