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Independent booksellers are desperate for customers to return, and not just for an online reading.
Avid Bookshop in Athens, Ga., sends personalized URLs to customers with a list of handpicked recommendations. ❧
Perhaps if they went the step further to set up domains for their customers, they could ostensibly use them not only as book blogs, but also to replace their social media habits?
An IndieWeb friendly platform run by your local bookseller might be out of their wheelhouse, but it could potentially help solve their proximal problem while also solving one of society’s problems all while helping to build community.
Annotated on October 16, 2020 at 12:51PM
Take Vroman’s Bookstore, a 126-year-old institution in Pasadena, Calif. It has more than 200 employees, 20,000 square feet of space and the rent to go along with it. In a normal year, it hosts anywhere from 300 to 400 events, bringing in authors for readings and signings, along with customers who buy books and maybe a glass of wine from the bar. But none of that is happening this year. ❧
Coincidentally I bought two books at Vroman’s yesterday and it looked reasonably busy for mid-day. (Maybe because of this article?)
It’s a bit disingenuous to mention wine at their bar as their wine bar was only finally open for a minute before the pandemic shut everything down.
Annotated on October 16, 2020 at 12:54PM
Like many other stores, Vroman’s is hosting online events to promote new books, which can attract attendees from all over the country but generally bring in almost no money. ❧
Maybe they need a book paywall for admission into those events? Buy a book to get the zoom code to get into the event?
David Dylan Thomas essentially did this for his recent book launch.
Annotated on October 16, 2020 at 12:55PM
In the best of times, the margins at a bookstore are paper thin — traditionally, a successful shop hopes to make 2 percent in profits — but operating during a pandemic is even more expensive. ❧
Yes—they said paper thin…
Annotated on October 16, 2020 at 12:57PM
I heard some people found my recent tweet about trying to make a living doing open source puzzling:
What if local newspapers/magazines or other traditional local publishers ran/operated/maintained IndieWeb platforms or hubs (similar to micro.blog, Multi-site WordPress installs, or Mastodon instances) to not only publish, aggregate, curate, and disseminate their local area news, but also provided that social media service for their customers?
Reasonable mass hosting can be done for about $2/month which could be bundled in with regular subscription prices of newspapers. This would solve some of the problems that people face with social media presences on services like Facebook and Twitter while simultaneously solving the problem of newspapers and journalistic enterprises owning and managing their own distribution. It would also give a tighter coupling between journalistic enterprises and the communities they serve.
The decentralization of the process here could also serve to prevent the much larger attack surfaces that global systems like Twitter and Facebook represent from being disinformation targets for hostile governments or hate groups. Tighter community involvement could be a side benefit for local discovery, aggregation, and interaction.
Many journalistic groups are already building and/or maintaining their own websites, why not go a half-step further. Additionally many large newspaper conglomerates have recently been building their own custom CMS platforms not only for their own work, but also to sell to other smaller news organizations that may not have the time or technical expertise to manage them.
A similar idea is that of local government doing this sort of building/hosting and Greg McVerry and I have discussed this being done by local libraries. While this is a laudable idea, I think that the alignment of benefits between customers and newspapers as well as the potential competition put into place could be a bigger beneficial benefit to all sides.
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See David Dalka's post "Dear Facebook, Please Return Our Social Networking Space". Tweet
I’m reminded a bit of Nassim Nicholas Taleb’s concept of the Thanksgiving Turkey in The Black Swan.
Spotify is making a major move into podcasts, where it appears to have clear designs to be the sort of Aggregator it cannot be when it comes to music.
I left my job as the second employee at Pinterest–before I vested any of my stock–to turn Gumroad into a billion-dollar company. And…
"Over the years, journalists have innovated narrowly, focusing on how stories look rather than what journalism can do."
"Local news organizations should become a driving force for better online public discourse, because Facebook and Twitter aren’t cutting it."
This idea isn’t too dissimilar to Greg McVerry’s idea of having local libraries allow users to “check” out domain names and pre-built IndieWeb content management systems to use. (Greg, have you fleshed this out on your site somewhere?)
In any case, I’ve outlined a bit about how newspapers and journalistic outlets could use read posts in an IndieWeb way to take more control over their comments sections instead of farming them out to caustic social media platforms that they have no control over. There’s at least one outlet that has begun experimenting with these types of read posts. Some of these ideas (and similar ones on podcasting) might begin to address Marie’s idea about improving online discourse and making a better forum.
I see she’s got a book on the topic entitled Journalism, Online Comments, and the Future of Public Discourse. I’ll have to take a look at it soon.