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How Do You Measure a Bookstore’s Worth?

I live not too far from Politics and Prose. In my opinion, it’s the only really great bookstore left in DC. It’s also a neighborhood institution. Now its future is uncertain, due to the death of one of the owners and the possible sale of the store. There are a lot of people who love books here in DC–but will that save a bookstore?

This article is an interesting look not just at my local bookstore, but at how, exactly, you measure a bookstore’s worth, and the complicated business behind the business of selling books in the digital age. Worth the read.

Amber Sparks's work has been featured or is forthcoming in various places, including New York Tyrant, Unsaid, Gargoyle, Annalemma and PANK. She is also the fiction editor at Emprise Review, and lives in Washington, DC with a husband and two beasts.

13 thoughts on “How Do You Measure a Bookstore’s Worth?

  1. Amber, directly under your post:

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    The Internet has a sense of humor.

    …Why do I sometimes see ads under the posts, and other times not? I’m currently using a group office computer at the School of the Art Institute. Do art institutions see more ads than private computers? (That would explain a lot.)

  2. That was a really interesting article. Sad that the owner of such a beloved, successful indie bookstore passed on and now its future is uncertain. While reading that article, I felt so jealous of all the regular patrons of Politics and Prose; in my area we don’t have an indie bookstore like that. We have a few specialty indie bookstores; one for children’s books, one for Wiccan/New Age books, and one for rare/out-of-print books, but that’s all that I know of. We have plethora of great indie record stores though, which I always thought was odd. I figured that shops selling LPs would go out of business a lot faster than shops selling books.

  3. I really do not know what I’d do without P&P. Like Anderson said, they really just have the perfect balance of a great selection and a knowledgeable, accessible staff.

    I hated the end of that article, though. I’m shop there pretty frequently, and am obviously sad that Ms. Cohen has passed, but I wouldn’t expect the patrons to have acted solemn. I’m not a member of the P&P community–i’ve never been to any of the book groups, been to one of the readers, or even chatted with the cashier about the books i was buying–but simply a customer.

    However, I shop at P&P because I feel like a member of a community while I’m shopping there, and like I am contributing to the success I whole-heartedly endorse and feel strongly about. There’s an aura at that store, one that other independent bookstores lack and should look to emulate.

    1. I’m not really part of the community there either, Mark. Totally know what you mean about the end. I didn’t know Ms. Cohen and so while her death is obviously very sad, I would have felt weird pretending to be solemn or whatever. I just want to buy and celebrate books.

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