For some black writers, this could deliver a devastating blow to their sales. A colleague says 33% of her sales came from Borders!
I'm happy to report that my friends at the Atlanta Buckhead Borders are still open for business. If you're in Atlanta, go over and buy some books from them! Several of the booksellers there are hand-selling titles by African American authors and we need them!
My colleague read in an industry article that half of the sales that would have happened at those stores are probably lost! Dear God, Borders shoppers, is that true?! Without a Borders to go, will you simply stop purchasing books?
I hope that's not true. If you live in a city that no longer has an indie or a Borders, I will you will support Barnes and Noble. And remember you can always support indie stores by purchasing books online at IndieBound. You can even buy e-books through indies now!
And, in addition to Amazon, you can buy books online through these bookstores and others. Also, there's a new online bookstore for African American books called NorthParan.com. For every book purchased through their site, they will give one away to a child in need around the world.
Many people are convinced that the African American fiction section of the bookstore is problematic for selling books by black authors. And yet Borders' AfAm section was popular enough that several black writer friends are afraid that the developments with Borders could mean a loss of as much as a third of their sales. And yet Borders is bankrupt. This raises some interesting questions about that book-selling model and about America. Is there such a thing as a novel that's meant only for a black audience? How would you begin to define such a novel? Does seg-book-ga-tion harm some authors and help others?
The Rejectionist recently raised these questions and more getting right to the heart of the matter: race and racism.
"Racism is fucking messy, and painful, and hard to deal with. It hurts. There aren't right answers. There is no one in charge, to solve the problem. But nothing's ever going to change until we go to that hard and honest place of really and truly engaging with one another (memo to white folks: "engaging" involves "listening" which involves "not talking"). Creating genuine community in an era of terminal-stage capitalism is no easy task, but we're gonna go out on a limb and say it is the most important task of all. You think it's just books? It's not just books, it's the whole world. This stuff matters."
As always, if you take a situation like trying to make money off of art, which is already complicated, and add in race, things get "fucking messy."
I'm interested in hearing your thoughts. Anybody got any brilliant ideas? What does the bankruptcy of Borders mean to you?