Everything is going mobile: The Lafayette Bookstore
In this age of apps and iStuff, what value do we really place on something like a book? It's a centuries-old technology, doesn't have wifi, and lacks the allure of gadget-mania. But, if you've ever taken your iPad to the beach and had to shake the sand out of it or worried about losing your Kindle vs. a $6.99 paperback, then you're probably already aware of the brilliance of the book medium. Paper, ink and glue are still one of the best ways to distribute words and ideas in a universally-accessible way.
There are problems, of course. Distribution of books is becoming, in some ways, harder and harder. Both the independent and chain stores are struggling to keep their doors open (and many are failing) as they attempt to deal with the ever-changing economic landscape. A little thing called the internet hasn't helped stores either as consumers decide discounts are worth more than local availability and expert, personalized attention and reading suggestions. As a result, communities are losing their bookstores.
A small bookstore in Lafayette, CA is no stranger to all these problems. If you take a look at the Lafayette Bookstore website (and I highly recommend you do), you will see how they have decided to adapt to the current market:
Closing our brick-and-mortar store doesn't mean we're out of business! Welcome to the Bay Area Bookmobile--our "Independent Bookstore on Wheels." We'll be popping up at farmers markets and festivals and schools and book clubs and wherever we're invited all over the Bay Area, selling a selection of new or used books, customized for each appearance.
"Big Blue" is a bookmobile that was decommissioned from the Ypsilanti (Michigan) District Library and was acquired and driven to the Bay Area from Lansing, Michigan by Dave Simpson the week of June 20, 2010.
This, my friends, is nostalgia in action. Big Blue evokes a time when people hungered for the ideas and worlds contained within books and would gather around the library bookmobile. As we all know, libraries barely have enough funds now to stay open 4 days a week, though, and poorer communities never even had the "luxury" of a library. I'm very excited that the private sector has picked up this idea and run with it. Power and books to the people!
According to Shelf Awareness, Owner Dave Simpson says Big Blue draws "a lot of attention! No matter where we're parked, people come up and ask what it is. Some are nostalgic for the bookmobile that brought them books when they were kids; others are thrilled because they've never seen anything like it. No matter the reason, we love bringing people aboard! The most common observation we hear is how big it is inside, and the most common comment we hear is, 'cool!' "
Cool indeed. I wish the Lafayette Bookstore tons of luck and hope the Bay Area continues to embrace their latest endeavor. Most of all, though, I wish Big Blue better mileage than the manufacturer ever suggested--you deserve it! Now, go buy some books!
Take a look inside!