Through Kim, Mitch Albom recently addressed 600 employees at Starbucks, and then went to a $50 a head "literary salon." (Full disclosure: that would not be for me. Not even the free event.)
Robert Sindelar at Third Place Books (Full disclosure: I love Third Place Books!) objects. "They're excited because it's new and cutting edge, but these events don't sell their backlist." Plus: "I know for a fact that there are bookstores out there that rely entirely on their five big author events a year. If those big authors stop coming, they'll shut their doors."
Sindelar insists that, when it comes to buying and selling books, "There's a philosophical issue to consider: Is there a substitute for walking in to a bookstore? Is there a substitute for experiencing the physical book, browsing a few titles, rubbing shoulders with other book lovers, picking up books by authors you wouldn't have heard of?"
I say, whatever gets people to buy books and read. Are bookstores in the business of offering the bookstore experience? Or are they in the business of selling books? I think it's the later. Amazon has been a success, and while they don't offer the experience of rubbing shoulders, they still entice you to think of other authors you haven't heard of. I think booksellers can take a page from Kim and look for ways to make their own events truly "events."