To the editor:
NOTE: The following is the text of my letter to The Gazette dated July 23, 2009.
Why are would-be planners with no grasp of reality or commerce so quick to prescribe ways to get Harmon’s business district to pull up its socks when it is all retail areas in Croton that are facing problems? Among other suggestions to remedy Croton’s deep-seated woes, we are being told, “What this village needs is a bookstore in Harmon.” Perhaps the members of the Harmon Committee will chip in the half-million to a million dollars and the business acumen such a venture would require.
Independent booksellers are a dying breed whose numbers continue to diminish. It is impossible for independent booksellers to match the buying power and low prices of the megachain bookstores, discounters like Walmart or Sam’s Club, and Amazon.com. A comparatively small number of independents have survived by adding extra services. These include gift items, used books, magazines, comfortable tub chairs, piped-in music, wi-fi access, and an adjunct café selling food, latte or wine and beer. A few newcomers have gained a foothold by specializing in narrow fields, such as crime and mystery.
Every successful bookstore needs employees who are readers and who know and love the product they are selling. Today the bookstore is not only a place to buy books. It has become a place to relax and talk about them. Allow me to deflate the bookstore myth once and for all with facts and statistics:
For some, myself included, books are almost like air, water and food—essential to life. But I am neither overly sanguine nor foolish enough to think that Croton, now a backwater community bypassed by the limited-access Expressway and offering a narrow customer base of less than 8,000 souls, is an appropriate location for an independent bookstore. A village in crisis can hardly take seriously such desperate clutching at straws.
— Robert Scott, Croton-on-Hudson