I’m participating in the Reverse Author Interviews meme sponsored by Book Munchies. It’s the authors’ turn to put us on the spot! Over the next month, a series of authors will pose questions for participating bloggers to answer.
Today’s author is Kendare Blake, author of this year’s popular YA novel Anna Dressed in Blood and the upcoming Girl of Nightmares (August 2013.) She describes herself “as an import from South Korea who was raised in the United States by caucasian parents.” Kendare studied at Ithaca College and Middlesex University in London. She “likes Greek Mythology, rare red meat and veganism. She also enjoys girls who can think with the boys like Ayn Rand, and boys who scare the morality into people, like Bret Easton Ellis.”
KENDARE BLAKE: Serious question: How do you as bloggers feel about the decline of big box book retailers like Borders and Barnes and Noble. Not that Barnes and Noble is going to die! But if it did! Discuss.
LARK: I desperately want bookstores – real, physical bookstores – to survive. But I honestly don’t know if they can – and that includes Barnes & Noble’s physical stores. Look, we all know that brick-and-mortar bookstores, whether big chains or indie stores, are facing increasing challenges. Online retailers like Amazon and even B&N’s own online division offer better convenience, much broader choice, and often lower prices than brick-and-mortar stores. Frankly, there’s no way physical stores will ever be able to compete on price, inventory, and convenience, as many of them have already discovered. How many times have you gone into a bookstore in search of a specific title, only to find the store didn’t have it? Or looked at a book’s list price and thought, “I bet Amazon has it cheaper”? Or ordered a book at 11:00 at night, or because you don’t have time to go to the bookstore?
The rise of ebooks poses another problem for physical stores. Even if they offer ebooks (through Kobo’s new independent bookstore program, or wireless downloads in the store the way B&N does), why should the customer buy ebooks that way, when they can do it much more easily from home, or direct from Kobo, Apple, or another e-tailer? (Not to mention that if the customer has a Kindle, they’re pretty much tied to Amazon… and a lot of people have Kindles.) As ebook sales go up and hardcover and even paperback sales decline – and that is happening already – more and more of customers’ book dollars will be spent online rather than in a brick-and-mortar store.
Like most of us, I’ve probably contributed to the demise of brick-and-mortar stores. Despite my love of and support for “real” bookstores, I often buy books through Amazon because of convenience and price. Convenience: I live about half-an-hour from any bookstores, so driving to a store costs me in both time and gas. Price: I have a limited book budget; if I pay less for the books I buy, I can buy more of them. It’s simple math. I also buy ebooks online, though not from Amazon because I don’t have a Kindle. Ebooks aren’t always cheaper, especially for books already in mass market paperback, but I watch for sales. I also like that ebooks don’t take up any space on my physical shelves, and I can take a lot of them with me in one device.
So can bookstores survive? Some independent stores may be able to hang on, particularly if they target a particular niche (children’s books, mysteries, sci-fi & fantasy, even travel books.) For one thing, by limiting themselves to a particular genre, they can carry a lot more titles within that genre, increasing the chance that they’ll have what a customer is looking for. They can also offer informed recommendations, since the people who work there are usually well-read. Indie stores can even carry related nonbook merchandise to broaden their appeal. (Actually, B&N is already doing this.)
But even those tactics may not be enough. What Amazon and even B&N’s online division started, the move toward ebooks may finish: brick-and-mortar bookstores may ultimately be as doomed as carriage and harness-makers were, once the automobile took hold. If so, I will mourn them, even as I use and enjoy the technologies that superseded them.
KB: Not so serious question: As book bloggers, what is your most hated book/book character, and how would you prank them? Conversely, name a favorite, and describe how you would profess your love and get them to hang out with you.
Ooh, fun question! (Much more fun!) Most hated character? You’d think it would be a supervillain – Voldemort, Sauron, someone like that. But the thing about them is that they’re totally, utterly evil. Of course you hate them; you’re supposed to hate them. But they’re not quite real, and the hatred is more intellectual than visceral.
So my most hated character is Dolores Umbrage from Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix. What makes her so loathsome is that she presents herself so reasonably, and she rationalizes the nasty, evil things she does. In her mind, everything she does is justified, and done for “the greater good.” It’s chilling and horrible and very real, and it just enrages me on a gut level. (And can I just say that Imelda Staunton played her to absolute perfection in the movie?)
As for how I would prank her, I think Fred and George’s exit in the book was just about perfect — swamp and all. But it would be lovely to somehow turn all her pink things into pond-scum green. Or somehow bewitch those nasty quills so that they engrave the words on her flesh instead of her victims’. (No, on second thought, that one would be descending to her level. Scratch that.) How about hiding a enchanted teapot or something in her office, then sending the Misuse of Muggle Artifacts Office an anonymous tip? It would serve her right to be the one under investigation for a change!
Thank you, Kendare! The first question is something I’ve done a lot of thinking (and even writing) about, but I hadn’t addressed it in a while, and the situation has changed a bit in the past year (no Borders, more ebooks.) And the second question was, as promised, sheer fun!