It’s a harsh world out there for bookstores, especially the quirky, independent kind. Still, somehow we thought that Salamander Books, the beloved Mt. Vernon purveyor of used books and home to friendly discussion groups, would be around forever. But the Kindle/Amazon/e-commerce world took its toll, and the bookstore will be closing its doors as soon as it sells off its inventory.
Last year when the Fishbowl spoke with Michael Cantor, who founded Salamander in the late 1990s, he was realistic about the costs of doing face-to-face business in an e-tail world: “Books aren’t the go-to for the lay public anymore. You used to get on the train and there would be a book in 75 percent of the peoples’ hands. Now they have laptops. It connects their brains in a similar way, but there’s nothing residual afterwards. You can always press the button or flip the switch. That’s very attractive.” But even though he was forthright about how new business models were making it pretty much impossible to turn a healthy profit, he was trying to find a way to make a go of it anyhow. “At this point, I see the book business not necessarily making the money I need to get by,” he said. “But it’s not worth ditching it. People want to go to places where they have a connection with the people running them. Those who think and create are always in search of other individuals.”
That’s exactly the kind of attitude we’ll miss. We wish Cantor luck, and are sorry to see him (and his books) go. Salamander will be selling all its books at half-price for the next few days. The store will be open today from 11 a.m. – 1 p.m., tomorrow from 11 a.m. – 3 p.m., and Sunday from noon to 4 p.m.
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