The end of the store?

What the big chain bookstores did to the mom & pop shops, Amazon.com is doing to the big chain bookstores.  At least Borders, which may be in its death throes.  (Barnes & Noble is hanging in there.)  Border’s woes are not just the internet.  The Washington Post published a fascinating article about Borders in the context of the larger book business:  Borders struggles amid rapid changes in book sales.

We have discussed the pro’s and con’s of Walmart, which gives customers good prices and thus a higher standard of living, at the expense of wiping out small local businesses.   I wonder, though, if even the big corporate department stores are at risk from the internet.   My daughter (a grown-up) buys virtually everything online–shoes, clothes, vitamins.  Will we even need hard-copy shops, except to buy food and maybe staples from Wal-Mart, which will surely survive?

Would this be yet another phase of gigantism, as the big stores themselves get outdone by even bigger nation-wide virtual stores?

In the early days of the internet, it was thought that small, even home-based businesses would flourish, since the new medium would allow them to compete on an even playing field with the big corporations.  Maybe that is so.  The online companies that get my daughter’s business are in some cases small ventures run by stay-at-home moms.  Or is internet commerce itself getting taken over by the big players?  Might the human impulse to “go shopping” mean that there will always be bricks and mortar shops, including bookstores?

About Gene Veith

Professor of Literature at Patrick Henry College, the Director of the Cranach Institute at Concordia Theological Seminary, a columnist for World Magazine and TableTalk, and the author of 18 books on different facets of Christianity & Culture.

  • SKPeterson

    I think there will be room for both, but that the actual process will involve many casualties large and small. Retailing is often run on very thin margins and as firms begin to approach the size and scope of wholesalers, the margins don’t really improve.

    A similar process has been acting in the field of agricultural production over the last 100 years. Increased mechanization, improved seed varieties and fertilizers, as well as storage and distribution systems, created the opportunities for vast economies of scale to be exploited. This resulted in the need for fewer, larger farming operations to produce most of our agricultural output, particularly cereal grains. It was long feared that the small farmer was being wiped out, and indeed, many were, but we are actually witnessing is something of a bifurcation in agricultural production: fewer numbers of large farming/ranching operations producing wheat, corn, soybeans, hogs or cattle for national and international markets are being joined by numerous, smaller farmers and ranchers who are specializing and filling various niche demand markets – locally grown fresh fruits and vegetables, honey or eggs, organic produce, or even specialty meats and cheeses. There also has been an increase in grape production for wine, so it’s all to the good there too. I recall a news story from when I lived in northern Idaho about a local woman who had a small (100-150) flock of sheep. She raised them primarily for wool which she then turned into a very good type of yarn which is in high demand by people involved in quilting, sewing and knitting hobbies. She markets her product on the internet and has developed a good clientele while filling this niche.

    For books, those niches will develop, but the forms and structure of the market will be in continuous flux for some time. Books are media for the communication of ideas, so it may be that authors get directly into the publishing business, or that a several small specialty publishing houses develop who have the technology to print small runs of books in their “stable” at a good price and also provide them electronically for kindle, etc. I read a lot of books on history and geography and there several small publishers who have books that can be found at Borders or Barnes and Noble, but I can often order directly from these houses at prices lower than what can be found in the retail outlet. From what I can see from my limited vantage point is that competition and choice in purchasing books will only increase, whatever the form of the retail market takes.

  • SKPeterson

    I think there will be room for both, but that the actual process will involve many casualties large and small. Retailing is often run on very thin margins and as firms begin to approach the size and scope of wholesalers, the margins don’t really improve.

    A similar process has been acting in the field of agricultural production over the last 100 years. Increased mechanization, improved seed varieties and fertilizers, as well as storage and distribution systems, created the opportunities for vast economies of scale to be exploited. This resulted in the need for fewer, larger farming operations to produce most of our agricultural output, particularly cereal grains. It was long feared that the small farmer was being wiped out, and indeed, many were, but we are actually witnessing is something of a bifurcation in agricultural production: fewer numbers of large farming/ranching operations producing wheat, corn, soybeans, hogs or cattle for national and international markets are being joined by numerous, smaller farmers and ranchers who are specializing and filling various niche demand markets – locally grown fresh fruits and vegetables, honey or eggs, organic produce, or even specialty meats and cheeses. There also has been an increase in grape production for wine, so it’s all to the good there too. I recall a news story from when I lived in northern Idaho about a local woman who had a small (100-150) flock of sheep. She raised them primarily for wool which she then turned into a very good type of yarn which is in high demand by people involved in quilting, sewing and knitting hobbies. She markets her product on the internet and has developed a good clientele while filling this niche.

    For books, those niches will develop, but the forms and structure of the market will be in continuous flux for some time. Books are media for the communication of ideas, so it may be that authors get directly into the publishing business, or that a several small specialty publishing houses develop who have the technology to print small runs of books in their “stable” at a good price and also provide them electronically for kindle, etc. I read a lot of books on history and geography and there several small publishers who have books that can be found at Borders or Barnes and Noble, but I can often order directly from these houses at prices lower than what can be found in the retail outlet. From what I can see from my limited vantage point is that competition and choice in purchasing books will only increase, whatever the form of the retail market takes.

  • Lisa

    Actually, you can even buy groceries online and have it delivered without having to go into a grocery store.

  • Lisa

    Actually, you can even buy groceries online and have it delivered without having to go into a grocery store.

  • Booklover

    When I was doing my book-collecting in the mid-90′s, the local Christian bookstore would never have Christian catechisms, the church fathers, or ancient church history; but Borders often would. So I am saddened by this news, but time moves on. . .We will probably all adapt as we did with the demise of the Mom and Pop bookstores.

    The highlighted article tells of the software that helped Amazon rocket to its success. This software is able to recommend books to customers based on their previous purchases. I will admit that I loved looking through these online lists of books which were recommended to me–theology, Christian history, etc. But if one were a Christian alarmist, one might be concerned that a future Big Brother could find out who all the Christians are based on their past purchases, using this Amazon software. . .oooh, sounds like a plot for a new “Left Behind” book. But I won’t buy it. :-)

  • Booklover

    When I was doing my book-collecting in the mid-90′s, the local Christian bookstore would never have Christian catechisms, the church fathers, or ancient church history; but Borders often would. So I am saddened by this news, but time moves on. . .We will probably all adapt as we did with the demise of the Mom and Pop bookstores.

    The highlighted article tells of the software that helped Amazon rocket to its success. This software is able to recommend books to customers based on their previous purchases. I will admit that I loved looking through these online lists of books which were recommended to me–theology, Christian history, etc. But if one were a Christian alarmist, one might be concerned that a future Big Brother could find out who all the Christians are based on their past purchases, using this Amazon software. . .oooh, sounds like a plot for a new “Left Behind” book. But I won’t buy it. :-)

  • SKPeterson

    @Booklover – but you could find it at your local Christian book store. That’s the usual level of depth they provide. ;)

  • SKPeterson

    @Booklover – but you could find it at your local Christian book store. That’s the usual level of depth they provide. ;)

  • Tom Hering

    “… except to buy food and maybe staples from Wal-Mart, which will surely survive?”

    Fuel prices will rise dramatically and permanently at some point in the near future. How will a business that gets a lot of its goods from China, and controls inventory costs by running fleets of 18-wheelers 24/7, “surely” survive? In the long run (which may not be so very long) it won’t. In the short run, it will cut quality – which was iffy to begin with* and which (as a regular Wal-Mart customer) I already see them cutting more and more.

    * We’ve already discussed how the manufacturing run for a product you buy at a big box is of lesser quality than the manufacturing run of that same product for higher-priced stores.

  • Tom Hering

    “… except to buy food and maybe staples from Wal-Mart, which will surely survive?”

    Fuel prices will rise dramatically and permanently at some point in the near future. How will a business that gets a lot of its goods from China, and controls inventory costs by running fleets of 18-wheelers 24/7, “surely” survive? In the long run (which may not be so very long) it won’t. In the short run, it will cut quality – which was iffy to begin with* and which (as a regular Wal-Mart customer) I already see them cutting more and more.

    * We’ve already discussed how the manufacturing run for a product you buy at a big box is of lesser quality than the manufacturing run of that same product for higher-priced stores.

  • http://www.bikebubba.blogspot.com Bike Bubba

    My take–as the part owner of a small fabric and smocking supplies business–is similar to that of SKPeterson. You get economies of scale for major commodities, but for other goods, not so much.

    Moreover, Wal-Mart will probably never achieve some of those commodities of scale because their corporate culture is to cheapen whatever goods they touch. So even if by some miracle they decided to stock pima cotton broadcloth or lawn fabric, their procurement group would have it from short staple cotton within a few months. It’s just how they work.

  • http://www.bikebubba.blogspot.com Bike Bubba

    My take–as the part owner of a small fabric and smocking supplies business–is similar to that of SKPeterson. You get economies of scale for major commodities, but for other goods, not so much.

    Moreover, Wal-Mart will probably never achieve some of those commodities of scale because their corporate culture is to cheapen whatever goods they touch. So even if by some miracle they decided to stock pima cotton broadcloth or lawn fabric, their procurement group would have it from short staple cotton within a few months. It’s just how they work.

  • http://lutherama.blogspot.com Dr. Luther in 21st Century

    Will internet destroy mom and pop internet stores? No, simply because the nature of the big name sites actually support the small ventures. Amazon and Ebay, two of the biggest names in internet sales both provide a venue for small operations to sell their wares. My wife buys a ton of used books via the Amazon market place (really useful for finding old and obscure textbooks). While I would miss going to a bookstore and having a double fudge mocha with extra whip cream while reading a good scifi/fantasy book, I think the internet is a better shopping experience. Most bookstores don’t carry the theological books I am interested in, they have a tendency to stock reformed/arminian garbage.

    We use the internet all the time for our shopping. Did nearly all my Christmas shopping that way. We buy just about everything via the internet except groceries and instant gratification buys.

  • http://lutherama.blogspot.com Dr. Luther in 21st Century

    Will internet destroy mom and pop internet stores? No, simply because the nature of the big name sites actually support the small ventures. Amazon and Ebay, two of the biggest names in internet sales both provide a venue for small operations to sell their wares. My wife buys a ton of used books via the Amazon market place (really useful for finding old and obscure textbooks). While I would miss going to a bookstore and having a double fudge mocha with extra whip cream while reading a good scifi/fantasy book, I think the internet is a better shopping experience. Most bookstores don’t carry the theological books I am interested in, they have a tendency to stock reformed/arminian garbage.

    We use the internet all the time for our shopping. Did nearly all my Christmas shopping that way. We buy just about everything via the internet except groceries and instant gratification buys.

  • http://enterthevein.wordpress.com J. Dean

    See, that’s hard to fathom. The Borders near my city of residence is usually pretty busy, and people are buying things quite often (myself included… I get in a LOT of trouble at home with the Mrs. with regard to my insatiable appetite for books!).

  • http://enterthevein.wordpress.com J. Dean

    See, that’s hard to fathom. The Borders near my city of residence is usually pretty busy, and people are buying things quite often (myself included… I get in a LOT of trouble at home with the Mrs. with regard to my insatiable appetite for books!).

  • WebMonk

    Tom, unless you are talking about $20/gallon of gas (not caused by broad inflation), I don’t think WalMart is looking at any serious worries about their transportation costs. Even then, they would be able to work better than most, so would still survive since everyone would be in the same boat, including their competition.

    Europe has gas prices upward of $7 per gallon, and big box stores seem to be surviving quite well over there. (they have a much more comprehensive rail system, and that helps, but the box stores there still rely very heavily on trucking for the last leg)

    Just more generally, big box stores will never be able to take over everything for the exact same reason they will totally dominate certain aspects of retail – economies of scale. Like Bike and SK have pointed out, many items cannot be handled with economies of scale for a variety of reasons.

    The same will tend to hold true for “big box” internet stores such as Amazon – Amazon can offer great prices mainly because they use economies of scale. It’s a distributed economy of scale, but the same principles apply.

    The thing that is different about Amazon is that they can offer a pre-made storefront for small businesses, which is something physical stores can’t even attempt to do. A small business selling pima cotton broadcloth can sell their goods through Amazon’s storefront.

    But, that’s a different situation than what we’re talking about, so I’ll not go rambling off on that rabbit trail. :-)

  • WebMonk

    Tom, unless you are talking about $20/gallon of gas (not caused by broad inflation), I don’t think WalMart is looking at any serious worries about their transportation costs. Even then, they would be able to work better than most, so would still survive since everyone would be in the same boat, including their competition.

    Europe has gas prices upward of $7 per gallon, and big box stores seem to be surviving quite well over there. (they have a much more comprehensive rail system, and that helps, but the box stores there still rely very heavily on trucking for the last leg)

    Just more generally, big box stores will never be able to take over everything for the exact same reason they will totally dominate certain aspects of retail – economies of scale. Like Bike and SK have pointed out, many items cannot be handled with economies of scale for a variety of reasons.

    The same will tend to hold true for “big box” internet stores such as Amazon – Amazon can offer great prices mainly because they use economies of scale. It’s a distributed economy of scale, but the same principles apply.

    The thing that is different about Amazon is that they can offer a pre-made storefront for small businesses, which is something physical stores can’t even attempt to do. A small business selling pima cotton broadcloth can sell their goods through Amazon’s storefront.

    But, that’s a different situation than what we’re talking about, so I’ll not go rambling off on that rabbit trail. :-)

  • WebMonk

    Whoops. DrL21 beat me to mentioning the small stores selling through the big Internet stores. What he said.

  • WebMonk

    Whoops. DrL21 beat me to mentioning the small stores selling through the big Internet stores. What he said.

  • http://www.redeemedrambling.blogspot.com/ John

    Tom Herring is correct. Even goods like televisions have different build specs for big-box outlets in order to produce the needed volume. The next time you go to buy a Sony tv, check the serial (IMEI) number, and check it online. Chances are, if you check a serial at Walmart, it came from a different production run than one sold everywhere else.

    On the other hand, I think the internet will supplant most meaningless and/or necessity shopping, but I suspect we will see a trend back toward buying quality which will probably mean personally examining merchandise before we buy it. I’m thinking of clothing specifically – checking the seams to make sure they are sewn and not fused, threads are tied up, buttons firmly attached, and in the case of shoes, a sewn sole, proper fit, etc. It works, by the way. I am wearing a pair of very sharp Rockport wingtips that are over a dozen years old – I bought them in an old fashioned shoe store that has since gone out of business, but I would never have been able to personally inspect the quality and fit online.

  • http://www.redeemedrambling.blogspot.com/ John

    Tom Herring is correct. Even goods like televisions have different build specs for big-box outlets in order to produce the needed volume. The next time you go to buy a Sony tv, check the serial (IMEI) number, and check it online. Chances are, if you check a serial at Walmart, it came from a different production run than one sold everywhere else.

    On the other hand, I think the internet will supplant most meaningless and/or necessity shopping, but I suspect we will see a trend back toward buying quality which will probably mean personally examining merchandise before we buy it. I’m thinking of clothing specifically – checking the seams to make sure they are sewn and not fused, threads are tied up, buttons firmly attached, and in the case of shoes, a sewn sole, proper fit, etc. It works, by the way. I am wearing a pair of very sharp Rockport wingtips that are over a dozen years old – I bought them in an old fashioned shoe store that has since gone out of business, but I would never have been able to personally inspect the quality and fit online.

  • Porcell

    Actually, Amazon has become a boon for both specialty book buyers and some savvy small sellers. I deal occasionally with a small bookseller in Boston for rare books but with Amazon for most other books. Amazon prices including shipping are more reasonable than local book stores and dealing with them far more convenient, as it saves the bother of shopping.

    A free economy always involves painful adjustment, though in the long run business owners and consumers have to deal unsentimentally with reality.

  • Porcell

    Actually, Amazon has become a boon for both specialty book buyers and some savvy small sellers. I deal occasionally with a small bookseller in Boston for rare books but with Amazon for most other books. Amazon prices including shipping are more reasonable than local book stores and dealing with them far more convenient, as it saves the bother of shopping.

    A free economy always involves painful adjustment, though in the long run business owners and consumers have to deal unsentimentally with reality.

  • Ted

    Aren’t we also missing the move to digital books. I look at my collection of books and look forward to the day when I can access them all on an (or collection of) eReaders. I was preparing for a bible study last night. The stack of books was impressive, and heavy. Study Bible, commentaries, printed text for note taking, and netbook with Logos. How I wished the commentaries and study bible were on an ereader. Would have sped up the process greatly. With more powerful tablets due out this year, once Logos makes the transition to an Android tablet, I’ll probably make the plunge.

    The ebook trend also takes out the cost of paper and distribution dropping the price and making information more accessible. Think of having the whole Project Gutenberg and Project Wittenberg libraries at your fingertips. The whole thing along with the Lutheran Study Bible, Luther’s Works, Book of Concord, and a huge number of other works will soon fit on a device that is smaller than the micro print bible I purchased when my eyes were younger.

    Now, if we can get CPH, NPH, and the indie publishers (New Reformation Press, Lutheran Press) to support ereaders, what role will the bookstore have?

    My mother (an avid reader in her late 60′s) has made the transition to a Kindle reader this year and loves it.

  • Ted

    Aren’t we also missing the move to digital books. I look at my collection of books and look forward to the day when I can access them all on an (or collection of) eReaders. I was preparing for a bible study last night. The stack of books was impressive, and heavy. Study Bible, commentaries, printed text for note taking, and netbook with Logos. How I wished the commentaries and study bible were on an ereader. Would have sped up the process greatly. With more powerful tablets due out this year, once Logos makes the transition to an Android tablet, I’ll probably make the plunge.

    The ebook trend also takes out the cost of paper and distribution dropping the price and making information more accessible. Think of having the whole Project Gutenberg and Project Wittenberg libraries at your fingertips. The whole thing along with the Lutheran Study Bible, Luther’s Works, Book of Concord, and a huge number of other works will soon fit on a device that is smaller than the micro print bible I purchased when my eyes were younger.

    Now, if we can get CPH, NPH, and the indie publishers (New Reformation Press, Lutheran Press) to support ereaders, what role will the bookstore have?

    My mother (an avid reader in her late 60′s) has made the transition to a Kindle reader this year and loves it.

  • http://www.utah-lutheran.blogspot.com Bror Erickson

    I tend to believe there will always be stores, and even book stores.
    I do like dealing with Amazon.com. But there is, at least for me, something about being able to roam around bookshelves perusing and looking for books, maybe running into a friend or fellow bibliophile.
    But I suspect what is killing the books stores most, is what is going to kill the book. Everything is going to Kindle, or E Readers. I don’t have one yet. But I think it is only inevitable. Perhaps it won’t replace the book completely. There will always be collections of old books etc. And those always make for nice little decorations when you’re not reading them. But When everyone is buying electronic books, then it is going to be a bit more difficult for the retailers of hard copy books to stay open.

  • http://www.utah-lutheran.blogspot.com Bror Erickson

    I tend to believe there will always be stores, and even book stores.
    I do like dealing with Amazon.com. But there is, at least for me, something about being able to roam around bookshelves perusing and looking for books, maybe running into a friend or fellow bibliophile.
    But I suspect what is killing the books stores most, is what is going to kill the book. Everything is going to Kindle, or E Readers. I don’t have one yet. But I think it is only inevitable. Perhaps it won’t replace the book completely. There will always be collections of old books etc. And those always make for nice little decorations when you’re not reading them. But When everyone is buying electronic books, then it is going to be a bit more difficult for the retailers of hard copy books to stay open.

  • WebMonk

    My guess is that book stores will continue on for several more decades (two more generations? 40-50 years?), even in the face of digital readers. However, they will become less focused on just selling the book itself, and more focused on providing an experience, help, and ancillary things to the books.

    For example, giving people a place to sample books in a more complete way than digital books can offer (at least with the current methods of digital book protections). We’ll have at least another generation or two who will enjoy the feel of books that there will still be a strong tactile attraction to bookstores. And they will add in lots of things like coffee shops, free wifi, quiet areas for study and work, etc, etc.

    That’s just my guess though.

  • WebMonk

    My guess is that book stores will continue on for several more decades (two more generations? 40-50 years?), even in the face of digital readers. However, they will become less focused on just selling the book itself, and more focused on providing an experience, help, and ancillary things to the books.

    For example, giving people a place to sample books in a more complete way than digital books can offer (at least with the current methods of digital book protections). We’ll have at least another generation or two who will enjoy the feel of books that there will still be a strong tactile attraction to bookstores. And they will add in lots of things like coffee shops, free wifi, quiet areas for study and work, etc, etc.

    That’s just my guess though.

  • http://www.thirduse.com fws

    there are a couple of dynamics missing from this article.

    1) tom mentioned this… fuel prices. the global economy that lets us get stuff from china and lets us ignor seasonality by getting produce from chile and ecuador will end eventually (but maybe not since we seem to now have found that we have supplies of natural gas to last us 250 years, plus natural gas has a less harmful carbon footprint…..) but this affect alot what this article is about…

    2) businesses are not meant to last now for more than 15 years. they are planned to become obsolete. they have a birth where the original founders invest other peoples money, then they grow like topsy if they are good ideas, like starbucks and at that point the original money exits…. then decline and death and implosion.

    the decline, death and implosion is not because there is no longer a market. it is because wall street now demands high percentage growth every year. no business can do that. 10 % growth a year would make starbucks the ONLY business in american within 50 years….

    so when the growth levels off, investment money moves elsewhere to find a buck and the business needs to shut down or merge .

    that is just the way it is now.

    so yes. the internet will close alot of businesses down. and then someone will get the “new ” idea that people like the customer service and personal attention and being able to touch and see a product before they buy it. and people WILL pay more for that. Now what we internet shoppers do, is we market research at a brick and mortar store, and then actually purchase on like. when those brick and mortar stores disappear, they will come back. now this wont happen for everyone. stores that sell cds and books may be gone forever.

    But…. todays internet is yesterdays sears roebuck catalog. who ever thought buying out of a catalog, albeit a digital one, would again be a strong idea?

  • http://www.thirduse.com fws

    there are a couple of dynamics missing from this article.

    1) tom mentioned this… fuel prices. the global economy that lets us get stuff from china and lets us ignor seasonality by getting produce from chile and ecuador will end eventually (but maybe not since we seem to now have found that we have supplies of natural gas to last us 250 years, plus natural gas has a less harmful carbon footprint…..) but this affect alot what this article is about…

    2) businesses are not meant to last now for more than 15 years. they are planned to become obsolete. they have a birth where the original founders invest other peoples money, then they grow like topsy if they are good ideas, like starbucks and at that point the original money exits…. then decline and death and implosion.

    the decline, death and implosion is not because there is no longer a market. it is because wall street now demands high percentage growth every year. no business can do that. 10 % growth a year would make starbucks the ONLY business in american within 50 years….

    so when the growth levels off, investment money moves elsewhere to find a buck and the business needs to shut down or merge .

    that is just the way it is now.

    so yes. the internet will close alot of businesses down. and then someone will get the “new ” idea that people like the customer service and personal attention and being able to touch and see a product before they buy it. and people WILL pay more for that. Now what we internet shoppers do, is we market research at a brick and mortar store, and then actually purchase on like. when those brick and mortar stores disappear, they will come back. now this wont happen for everyone. stores that sell cds and books may be gone forever.

    But…. todays internet is yesterdays sears roebuck catalog. who ever thought buying out of a catalog, albeit a digital one, would again be a strong idea?

  • DonS

    Borders and B & N already have coffee shops, free wi-fi, etc.

    In Santa Barbara, when my son was attending college there, there were huge B & N and Borders bookstores almost across the street from one another on State Street. They were typically a hub of downtown activity, with people browsing, reading, talking, sipping coffee, etc. My son was back there last weekend, and reports that both stores have closed.

    E-books, free shipping, better prices, and no sales tax. It’s hard for brick and mortar stores, with their high overhead, to compete with that. It’s a loss, but one that retailers are going to have to adapt to.

    It would help a lot if states would realize that the old-fashioned retail sales tax is obsolete, and is greatly harming its in-state retailers. Especially when that sales tax approaches 10%. I’m all for consumption taxes, as opposed to the invasive big brother income tax, but they need to take the form of a VAT, rather than a retail tax, so that they are imposed uniformly on all goods, no matter how they are sold.

  • DonS

    Borders and B & N already have coffee shops, free wi-fi, etc.

    In Santa Barbara, when my son was attending college there, there were huge B & N and Borders bookstores almost across the street from one another on State Street. They were typically a hub of downtown activity, with people browsing, reading, talking, sipping coffee, etc. My son was back there last weekend, and reports that both stores have closed.

    E-books, free shipping, better prices, and no sales tax. It’s hard for brick and mortar stores, with their high overhead, to compete with that. It’s a loss, but one that retailers are going to have to adapt to.

    It would help a lot if states would realize that the old-fashioned retail sales tax is obsolete, and is greatly harming its in-state retailers. Especially when that sales tax approaches 10%. I’m all for consumption taxes, as opposed to the invasive big brother income tax, but they need to take the form of a VAT, rather than a retail tax, so that they are imposed uniformly on all goods, no matter how they are sold.

  • http://www.thirduse.com fws

    don @ 17

    I get what you say about sales tax and agree. on the other hand brasil has a vat, and that is why everything we buy is taxed at almost 100%. so imported goods like anything electronic costs exactly double what it costs in the usa.

    and then we have “competing brands” that are brands with wierd names that are assembled in the amazon to “create brasilian jobs”. Really it would be cheaper to just give everyone the money instead of jobs and not have the bulk of that money go into the pockets of politicians , corruption etc.

    I am trying to persuade one organization that is fighting this all, to stop fighting. I want them to push instead for a law that requires all stores to list out the taxes that are being paid for everything that is bought. it can still be a vat. but now people have NO idea what percentage of what they buy goes to the government. they would be shocked and things would change if these facts were to stare at them with every single purchase. and not with computerization, this would not be much of a burden on retailers and businesses.

    I think sunlight laws are better than mandates. at least the sales tax is visible to everyone. and still no one calculates what they pay annuallly in sales tax. we know this when we hear conversations here imagining that there are people who dont pay any taxes , like the working poor.

    i guess dear don. I am saying there is no easy solution. aslo keep in mind that sales tax is the only tax base for municipalities and counties to run schools ever since property tax laws were gutted.

  • http://www.thirduse.com fws

    don @ 17

    I get what you say about sales tax and agree. on the other hand brasil has a vat, and that is why everything we buy is taxed at almost 100%. so imported goods like anything electronic costs exactly double what it costs in the usa.

    and then we have “competing brands” that are brands with wierd names that are assembled in the amazon to “create brasilian jobs”. Really it would be cheaper to just give everyone the money instead of jobs and not have the bulk of that money go into the pockets of politicians , corruption etc.

    I am trying to persuade one organization that is fighting this all, to stop fighting. I want them to push instead for a law that requires all stores to list out the taxes that are being paid for everything that is bought. it can still be a vat. but now people have NO idea what percentage of what they buy goes to the government. they would be shocked and things would change if these facts were to stare at them with every single purchase. and not with computerization, this would not be much of a burden on retailers and businesses.

    I think sunlight laws are better than mandates. at least the sales tax is visible to everyone. and still no one calculates what they pay annuallly in sales tax. we know this when we hear conversations here imagining that there are people who dont pay any taxes , like the working poor.

    i guess dear don. I am saying there is no easy solution. aslo keep in mind that sales tax is the only tax base for municipalities and counties to run schools ever since property tax laws were gutted.

  • Joe

    “aslo keep in mind that sales tax is the only tax base for municipalities and counties to run schools ever since property tax laws were gutted.”

    That is exactly not true in Wisconsin. School districts are independent taxing entities and are limited to using only property taxes.

  • Joe

    “aslo keep in mind that sales tax is the only tax base for municipalities and counties to run schools ever since property tax laws were gutted.”

    That is exactly not true in Wisconsin. School districts are independent taxing entities and are limited to using only property taxes.

  • DonS

    Frank @ 18: I get your point, but the problem is that Internet retailers such as Amazon are not required to charge sales tax in states in which they do not have a physical presence. So, in-state retailers, which have to charge sales tax, are already at close to a 10% price disadvantage in California, for example, before the competition even begins. As a result, money-hungry states are becoming more aggressive about collecting the use tax, which almost no one pays voluntarily. These efforts to collect use tax are necessarily intrusive, paperwork-intensive, and inefficient, and are really no solution at all. The only reasonable solution is to do away with the sales tax and find some other more equitable funding method which will help in-state retailers compete better with Internet retailers. Since they’ve already milked the income tax cow to death (and because the income tax was a horrendous invention from a personal liberty/government snooping perspective), I think it’s got to be the VAT or something like that, in order to retain a consumption-oriented tax, which is more economically sensible than a tax on productive labor.

    I haven’t really thought this through, and still hold on to the quaint notion that governments will look for ways to function more efficiently, try to do fewer things and be less intrusive, and thus reduce their need for revenue.

    Yeah, that’s crazy, I know.

  • DonS

    Frank @ 18: I get your point, but the problem is that Internet retailers such as Amazon are not required to charge sales tax in states in which they do not have a physical presence. So, in-state retailers, which have to charge sales tax, are already at close to a 10% price disadvantage in California, for example, before the competition even begins. As a result, money-hungry states are becoming more aggressive about collecting the use tax, which almost no one pays voluntarily. These efforts to collect use tax are necessarily intrusive, paperwork-intensive, and inefficient, and are really no solution at all. The only reasonable solution is to do away with the sales tax and find some other more equitable funding method which will help in-state retailers compete better with Internet retailers. Since they’ve already milked the income tax cow to death (and because the income tax was a horrendous invention from a personal liberty/government snooping perspective), I think it’s got to be the VAT or something like that, in order to retain a consumption-oriented tax, which is more economically sensible than a tax on productive labor.

    I haven’t really thought this through, and still hold on to the quaint notion that governments will look for ways to function more efficiently, try to do fewer things and be less intrusive, and thus reduce their need for revenue.

    Yeah, that’s crazy, I know.

  • http://www.thirduse.com fws

    don s @ 20

    yes quaint indeed.

    I would really favor ditching ALL taxes in favor of a vat. it most closely resembles the customs duty we used to fund the entire fed govt out of. and modern computerization would make it efficient to do.

    but you know what would happen. we would have a vat and then continue the other taxes as well.

    that would be my fear.

    and we would still need to make it visible (ie painful ) to the public somehow…

  • http://www.thirduse.com fws

    don s @ 20

    yes quaint indeed.

    I would really favor ditching ALL taxes in favor of a vat. it most closely resembles the customs duty we used to fund the entire fed govt out of. and modern computerization would make it efficient to do.

    but you know what would happen. we would have a vat and then continue the other taxes as well.

    that would be my fear.

    and we would still need to make it visible (ie painful ) to the public somehow…

  • WebMonk

    fws, while your description of a business life cycle was ludicrous, nonsense, and totally divorced from reality in 16, I am definitely in agreement with you that the VAT as preferable to what we have now (21). I would tend to favor a flat income tax with an exception for the first $30000 indexed for inflation (or $20K or $40K whatever), but a VAT would be just fine with me.

    But, like you said, a VAT plus what we have in place now would be a more likely outcome and a much worse outcome for almost everyone involved. The hidden nature of the VAT is its biggest drawback to my mind, but we could probably help that out by adding in a requirement that the total VAT be displayed for each item on a receipt. Not perfect, but I think that would help a VAT system.

  • WebMonk

    fws, while your description of a business life cycle was ludicrous, nonsense, and totally divorced from reality in 16, I am definitely in agreement with you that the VAT as preferable to what we have now (21). I would tend to favor a flat income tax with an exception for the first $30000 indexed for inflation (or $20K or $40K whatever), but a VAT would be just fine with me.

    But, like you said, a VAT plus what we have in place now would be a more likely outcome and a much worse outcome for almost everyone involved. The hidden nature of the VAT is its biggest drawback to my mind, but we could probably help that out by adding in a requirement that the total VAT be displayed for each item on a receipt. Not perfect, but I think that would help a VAT system.

  • http://www.biblegateway.com/versions/Contemporary-English-Version-CEV-Bible/ sg

    Why go to a bookstore when I can buy books etc. through the link provided here or at the Alephblog? That way the folks who wrote or reviewed the books I am interested in can get a cut in consideration of their work in writing or reviewing.

  • http://www.biblegateway.com/versions/Contemporary-English-Version-CEV-Bible/ sg

    Why go to a bookstore when I can buy books etc. through the link provided here or at the Alephblog? That way the folks who wrote or reviewed the books I am interested in can get a cut in consideration of their work in writing or reviewing.

  • LAJ

    Often there’s a lot of complaining about how awful the books are at Christian book stores. Yes, there are many awful books there. But how many of you have ordered books through them or asked if they could carry certain books that you and your friends are interested in? Perhaps if you worked with your Christian book store, you might find that they would be willing to carry the books you want. If no one buys the books, they can’t stock them. No one bought St. Augustine’s book so we aren’t carrying it now. No one buys Hammer of God unless I sell it to them. Christian book stores are suffering the effects of our changing internet world, too, so they would likely be glad to offer books that people would buy.

    Books from Northwestern Publishing (WELS) are not carried because Northwestern will not offer any discount at all so there is no profit. However, most probably carry the Concordia arch books so they would be willing to order many books from Concordia for you. Concordia does not give as good a discount on its theological books so those are more difficult to stock.

  • LAJ

    Often there’s a lot of complaining about how awful the books are at Christian book stores. Yes, there are many awful books there. But how many of you have ordered books through them or asked if they could carry certain books that you and your friends are interested in? Perhaps if you worked with your Christian book store, you might find that they would be willing to carry the books you want. If no one buys the books, they can’t stock them. No one bought St. Augustine’s book so we aren’t carrying it now. No one buys Hammer of God unless I sell it to them. Christian book stores are suffering the effects of our changing internet world, too, so they would likely be glad to offer books that people would buy.

    Books from Northwestern Publishing (WELS) are not carried because Northwestern will not offer any discount at all so there is no profit. However, most probably carry the Concordia arch books so they would be willing to order many books from Concordia for you. Concordia does not give as good a discount on its theological books so those are more difficult to stock.

  • R Hall

    So, how about this thought from someone with a dim memory of what was only a small amount of knowledge about American life over the last two centuries. People were spread far and wide in the U.S. of A. before automobiles made a ten mile trip to Wal-Mart feasible. Weren’t catalogs a mainstay for folks, and weren’t there a lot more people of agrarian type at one point going “to town” only rarely? Lots of things were different then, but ordering products from home is not new.

  • R Hall

    So, how about this thought from someone with a dim memory of what was only a small amount of knowledge about American life over the last two centuries. People were spread far and wide in the U.S. of A. before automobiles made a ten mile trip to Wal-Mart feasible. Weren’t catalogs a mainstay for folks, and weren’t there a lot more people of agrarian type at one point going “to town” only rarely? Lots of things were different then, but ordering products from home is not new.

  • Tom Hering

    I wonder if the book business hasn’t shot itself in the foot by incrementally cheapening the physical quality of books over the years. I suppose it has something to do with weight and shipping costs. But the one thing a physical book has that an e-text doesn’t is sensuality. I mostly read literature, so I buy most of my books in second-hand shops, where I can spend hours just looking at and handling older examples of the bookmaker’s art. Beautiful bindings, fine paper and typesetting, wonderful illustrations, and heft (the surprising experience of weight that even the smaller, old books offer). The enjoyment of reading, for me, is about more than just my eye seeing the image of a text.

  • Tom Hering

    I wonder if the book business hasn’t shot itself in the foot by incrementally cheapening the physical quality of books over the years. I suppose it has something to do with weight and shipping costs. But the one thing a physical book has that an e-text doesn’t is sensuality. I mostly read literature, so I buy most of my books in second-hand shops, where I can spend hours just looking at and handling older examples of the bookmaker’s art. Beautiful bindings, fine paper and typesetting, wonderful illustrations, and heft (the surprising experience of weight that even the smaller, old books offer). The enjoyment of reading, for me, is about more than just my eye seeing the image of a text.

  • http://www.thirduse.com fws

    tom at 26

    Interesting. I wonder about that….

    when the switch was made from clay tablets to scrolls, what was lost was durability, and finding context. a tablet is a small context. harder to lose your place, as in “now where was that proof text?” lets call this indexing.

    Scrolls provide more context. you can see more pages at the same time. and there are certain ways to provide indexing. size of roll on each side, you can put in chapters and verse numbers.

    bound books provided less context. better indexing. but that indexing requires schooling in the elements of bound book technology. what is a table of contents, chapter, page , index, apendix etc. roughly the same durability as scrolls. more portable. smaller context window.

    electronic books. there probably needs to be electronic rules that look like table of contents, index, footnotes. hyperlinks that lead to other hyperlinks looks like ADS. It is great but leads to un-structure. context window is smaller. lots of work needs to be done as to indexing… the scroll bar on the right sorta works… adobe acrobat puts a table of contents in a window to the left… good…
    MUCH more portability. much less durability.

    and you are focussing on the aethetic pleasures. you left out the smell of a book. that is the first thing I do. I smell the book.

  • http://www.thirduse.com fws

    tom at 26

    Interesting. I wonder about that….

    when the switch was made from clay tablets to scrolls, what was lost was durability, and finding context. a tablet is a small context. harder to lose your place, as in “now where was that proof text?” lets call this indexing.

    Scrolls provide more context. you can see more pages at the same time. and there are certain ways to provide indexing. size of roll on each side, you can put in chapters and verse numbers.

    bound books provided less context. better indexing. but that indexing requires schooling in the elements of bound book technology. what is a table of contents, chapter, page , index, apendix etc. roughly the same durability as scrolls. more portable. smaller context window.

    electronic books. there probably needs to be electronic rules that look like table of contents, index, footnotes. hyperlinks that lead to other hyperlinks looks like ADS. It is great but leads to un-structure. context window is smaller. lots of work needs to be done as to indexing… the scroll bar on the right sorta works… adobe acrobat puts a table of contents in a window to the left… good…
    MUCH more portability. much less durability.

    and you are focussing on the aethetic pleasures. you left out the smell of a book. that is the first thing I do. I smell the book.

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    Wish I could have been part of this conversation, but my schedule this month is precluding me from saying as much as I want. I say this as a guy who makes his living working on the Web site for a (smallish) book publisher, which also sells its books through brick-and-mortar stores and, more significantly, through Amazon.com.

    From what I’ve been able to pick up in my office, Borders isn’t … er, wasn’t necessarily the best example of a chain bookstore. There are all sorts of reasons for big box chains to fail, only one of which is due to competition from the Web. I’m pretty certain we continue to do good business with Barnes & Noble — and, more significantly, with local (but massive) independent bookstore Powells. Of course, in both cases, there is a not-insignificant Web presence for both businesses in addition to physical bookstores. In fact, I might guess that Powells.com makes way more money than Powells, for the simple reason that more people live away from Portland than in it. Point being, the big box stores are on the Internet. Including WalMart. That’s not what’s affecting them.

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    Wish I could have been part of this conversation, but my schedule this month is precluding me from saying as much as I want. I say this as a guy who makes his living working on the Web site for a (smallish) book publisher, which also sells its books through brick-and-mortar stores and, more significantly, through Amazon.com.

    From what I’ve been able to pick up in my office, Borders isn’t … er, wasn’t necessarily the best example of a chain bookstore. There are all sorts of reasons for big box chains to fail, only one of which is due to competition from the Web. I’m pretty certain we continue to do good business with Barnes & Noble — and, more significantly, with local (but massive) independent bookstore Powells. Of course, in both cases, there is a not-insignificant Web presence for both businesses in addition to physical bookstores. In fact, I might guess that Powells.com makes way more money than Powells, for the simple reason that more people live away from Portland than in it. Point being, the big box stores are on the Internet. Including WalMart. That’s not what’s affecting them.

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    As to whether small or large businesses will dominate the Internet, I see no reason to believe that the answer will be any different than off the Internet. Which is to say that there will be both small and large businesses (with the large ones taking more money, of course), each catering to their own customers and strengths.

    Small businesses can of course be more nimble, take more chances, fill particular niches, and provide superior customer service, none of which are conducive to the bottom line of a large business, on- or offline. Small businesses will also attract people who simply do not like large businesses, for one reason or another.

    As to shopping online vs. brick-and-mortar shops, again, we will almost certainly have the latter, but have seen and will continue to see them evolve into the types of stores that are particularly suited to be, in some way, superior to shopping online. When brick-and-mortar businesses have gone under, it has often been the case that they didn’t give anyone a good reason to not just go online for their business.

    I mean, if you don’t care about quality of merchandise and are just going to shop for the cheapest price you can get, no matter how terrible the experience and customer service, does it really matter if you go to WalMart or Amazon.com? Or, in a slightly different manner, take my local paper (which, oddly, I’ve started receiving again, because I’m ironically Gen-X like that). Its front page is pretty much only filled with stories from national wire services, many of which I read online the day before. Is it any wonder newspapers are in a death spiral?

    Still, physical shops have much to offer. For one thing, they remain the quickest way to get something in your hot little hands. The fastest, most expensive shipping option cannot beat the time it takes me to drive (or, heck, walk) to my local bookstore. There is the experience of shopping physically, whether it’s the sights and smells, the bonus atmosphere (music, cafes), the (hopefully) cheerful, helpful salespeople with knowledge that beats Amazon.com’s recommendation algorithm any day, and so on.

    And then there’s the fact that corporate behemoths will simply never carry many items because their manufacturers cannot or will not produce enough quantity or make money off the wholesale discount that such corporations demand. Or they just feel that their small brand has more cache not being sold in WalMart or on Amazon.com.

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    As to whether small or large businesses will dominate the Internet, I see no reason to believe that the answer will be any different than off the Internet. Which is to say that there will be both small and large businesses (with the large ones taking more money, of course), each catering to their own customers and strengths.

    Small businesses can of course be more nimble, take more chances, fill particular niches, and provide superior customer service, none of which are conducive to the bottom line of a large business, on- or offline. Small businesses will also attract people who simply do not like large businesses, for one reason or another.

    As to shopping online vs. brick-and-mortar shops, again, we will almost certainly have the latter, but have seen and will continue to see them evolve into the types of stores that are particularly suited to be, in some way, superior to shopping online. When brick-and-mortar businesses have gone under, it has often been the case that they didn’t give anyone a good reason to not just go online for their business.

    I mean, if you don’t care about quality of merchandise and are just going to shop for the cheapest price you can get, no matter how terrible the experience and customer service, does it really matter if you go to WalMart or Amazon.com? Or, in a slightly different manner, take my local paper (which, oddly, I’ve started receiving again, because I’m ironically Gen-X like that). Its front page is pretty much only filled with stories from national wire services, many of which I read online the day before. Is it any wonder newspapers are in a death spiral?

    Still, physical shops have much to offer. For one thing, they remain the quickest way to get something in your hot little hands. The fastest, most expensive shipping option cannot beat the time it takes me to drive (or, heck, walk) to my local bookstore. There is the experience of shopping physically, whether it’s the sights and smells, the bonus atmosphere (music, cafes), the (hopefully) cheerful, helpful salespeople with knowledge that beats Amazon.com’s recommendation algorithm any day, and so on.

    And then there’s the fact that corporate behemoths will simply never carry many items because their manufacturers cannot or will not produce enough quantity or make money off the wholesale discount that such corporations demand. Or they just feel that their small brand has more cache not being sold in WalMart or on Amazon.com.

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    One final thought before I comb through the discussion to see if there’s anything else to reply to. Someone else referred to this somewhat, but I really do think that the current Internet business models are pretty dependent on transportation costs remaining like they are.

    Consider my sister-in-law. She lives in Houston. She likes buying shoes. She goes to Zappos.com, whose warehouse is in Shepherdsville, Kentucky. She isn’t sure what size she should get for a shoe she likes (or which model she prefers, or whether the color on her screen will match her outfits in real life), so she orders six pairs of shoes, which are then shipped from Kentucky to Texas. Only one or two pair fit or are a good match, so she takes advantage of their return policy and puts the other four or five pairs back in the box, from Texas to Kentucky. Now you tell me that a business model like that won’t be affected when airplane or truck fuel is 50% more expensive.

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    One final thought before I comb through the discussion to see if there’s anything else to reply to. Someone else referred to this somewhat, but I really do think that the current Internet business models are pretty dependent on transportation costs remaining like they are.

    Consider my sister-in-law. She lives in Houston. She likes buying shoes. She goes to Zappos.com, whose warehouse is in Shepherdsville, Kentucky. She isn’t sure what size she should get for a shoe she likes (or which model she prefers, or whether the color on her screen will match her outfits in real life), so she orders six pairs of shoes, which are then shipped from Kentucky to Texas. Only one or two pair fit or are a good match, so she takes advantage of their return policy and puts the other four or five pairs back in the box, from Texas to Kentucky. Now you tell me that a business model like that won’t be affected when airplane or truck fuel is 50% more expensive.

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    A few notes on e-books. I think they’re clearly a force in the publishing industry, but, as with brick-and-mortar stores, I just don’t see the physical being completely extinguished by the virtual.

    I think the best use for e-books is for people who buy mass-market text-only paperbacks. E-books are lacking in several ways from other books. For one thing, the Kindle remains a black-and-white-only device. But color photos and graphs are key to all sorts of modern books. E-books are also limited in page dimensions. Books, in theory, are not.

    And, sure, some people just like reading physical books, for their quality and experience. As to Ted’s scenario (@13), I personally find it very difficult to compare multiple texts while online, especially if all I had was one small e-book screen (usually the only way I can do this is by having them side-by-side on a wide screen, an experience that better approximates having two juxtaposed books). So while a Kindle (or whatever) makes it easier to carry around a whole lot of books, it doesn’t make it easier to compare them, if that’s your thing. And for (theological) students, e-books still lack the underlining, the arrows, the scribbling in the margins … at least, for now.

    Ted also said, “The ebook trend also takes out the cost of paper and distribution dropping the price and making information more accessible.” True, but I think people vastly overestimate the cost of actually physically producing a book, which is why they complain about the supposedly high costs of e-books. Everything else in the book production chain remains the same — acquiring the rights, editing, layout, photo rights, etc. — and still needs to be figured into an e-book’s cost, to say nothing of profit.

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    A few notes on e-books. I think they’re clearly a force in the publishing industry, but, as with brick-and-mortar stores, I just don’t see the physical being completely extinguished by the virtual.

    I think the best use for e-books is for people who buy mass-market text-only paperbacks. E-books are lacking in several ways from other books. For one thing, the Kindle remains a black-and-white-only device. But color photos and graphs are key to all sorts of modern books. E-books are also limited in page dimensions. Books, in theory, are not.

    And, sure, some people just like reading physical books, for their quality and experience. As to Ted’s scenario (@13), I personally find it very difficult to compare multiple texts while online, especially if all I had was one small e-book screen (usually the only way I can do this is by having them side-by-side on a wide screen, an experience that better approximates having two juxtaposed books). So while a Kindle (or whatever) makes it easier to carry around a whole lot of books, it doesn’t make it easier to compare them, if that’s your thing. And for (theological) students, e-books still lack the underlining, the arrows, the scribbling in the margins … at least, for now.

    Ted also said, “The ebook trend also takes out the cost of paper and distribution dropping the price and making information more accessible.” True, but I think people vastly overestimate the cost of actually physically producing a book, which is why they complain about the supposedly high costs of e-books. Everything else in the book production chain remains the same — acquiring the rights, editing, layout, photo rights, etc. — and still needs to be figured into an e-book’s cost, to say nothing of profit.

  • Tom Hering

    Frank @ 27, how could I have left out smell? When I was a kid, I haunted the downtown bookstore looking for the newest paperbacks – science fiction, Mad Magazine anthologies, the Man from U.N.C.L.E. series. And yes, those new arrivals had a fresh-off-the-presses smell that I can recall to this day. New paperbacks don’t have the same smell now, so it must have been the mix of glues and inks and papers used in the ’60s – the older “recipe.” I still run across mint ’60s paperbacks in second-hand shops – copies that haven’t lost that unique smell as a result of time, mildew, and cigarette smoke. It’s always a Proustian “madeleine memory” experience. :-)

  • Tom Hering

    Frank @ 27, how could I have left out smell? When I was a kid, I haunted the downtown bookstore looking for the newest paperbacks – science fiction, Mad Magazine anthologies, the Man from U.N.C.L.E. series. And yes, those new arrivals had a fresh-off-the-presses smell that I can recall to this day. New paperbacks don’t have the same smell now, so it must have been the mix of glues and inks and papers used in the ’60s – the older “recipe.” I still run across mint ’60s paperbacks in second-hand shops – copies that haven’t lost that unique smell as a result of time, mildew, and cigarette smoke. It’s always a Proustian “madeleine memory” experience. :-)

  • http://www.thirduse.com fws

    tom @ 32

    be honest!

    did you actually make it through “rememberance of things past”?

    and did you get through war and peace? by tolstoi.

    I am convinced most people lie. I know that I do.

  • http://www.thirduse.com fws

    tom @ 32

    be honest!

    did you actually make it through “rememberance of things past”?

    and did you get through war and peace? by tolstoi.

    I am convinced most people lie. I know that I do.

  • Tom Hering

    “be honest! did you actually make it through ‘rememberance of things past’?” – Frank @ 33.

    Heavens no! After slogging through Swann’s Way, it was clear to me that further effort wasn’t going to be adequately rewarded.

    “and did you get through war and peace?”

    Never tried. Generally, I prefer tightly-written works. I’m currently reading Henri Bosco’s 150-page masterpiece, Culotte the Donkey – a fascinating tale of Christianity versus Neo-Paganism, written in 1937 for older children and adults. (Here’s a recent master’s thesis on the novel.) However, despite my preference, I’m looking forward to reading a 665-page novel next, Jean Dutourd’s The Horrors of Love. Being a Dutourd, I know it’s going to be enjoyable.

  • Tom Hering

    “be honest! did you actually make it through ‘rememberance of things past’?” – Frank @ 33.

    Heavens no! After slogging through Swann’s Way, it was clear to me that further effort wasn’t going to be adequately rewarded.

    “and did you get through war and peace?”

    Never tried. Generally, I prefer tightly-written works. I’m currently reading Henri Bosco’s 150-page masterpiece, Culotte the Donkey – a fascinating tale of Christianity versus Neo-Paganism, written in 1937 for older children and adults. (Here’s a recent master’s thesis on the novel.) However, despite my preference, I’m looking forward to reading a 665-page novel next, Jean Dutourd’s The Horrors of Love. Being a Dutourd, I know it’s going to be enjoyable.


CLOSE | X

HIDE | X