Offline Bookstores

Tony Sanfilippo offers an interesting approach to the offline bookstore, using a model that incorporates the very forces that have undermined the bookstore we have known. In addition to the typical Borders-esque book displays, his bookstore includes a print-on-demand machine that customers use for custom orders, and sell subscriptions that allow for renting books or downloading ebooks without DRM.

The idea of returning to 18th and 19th century book culture with its private libvraries and custom-bound books is especially intriguing. Imagine students who could interlace blank pages into books for note-taking. Or combining a text and a critical study of that text into one volume.

Sanfilippo acknowledges that the model might not work, but it’s refreshing to see experimentation and thoughtful consideration in our approach to the local bookstore.