The plight of independent booksellers | AspenTimes.com

The plight of independent booksellers

Dear Editor:Many of you may remember me from managing Explore Booksellers in the early 1990’s, or being president of AIDS Aspen C.A.R.E.S. Over the years I have owned and managed independent bookstores across the country. Now I am owner of Verbatim Booksellers in Vail.Like Explore is to Aspen, Verbatim Booksellers has been a Vail institution for nearly a quarter century. This past spring I nearly closed Verbatim’s doors for good, but the Vail community asked me to hold on. The longtime residents, second homeowners, and even tourists came together to raise the monies needed to help Verbatim stay open.This is not new. Both Kepler’s Bookstore in Menlo Park (you may want to Google the article from Inc. Magazine) and Skylight Books in Los Feliz, Calif. were resurrected by their respective communities. I would like to recommend that the lovers of Explore follow suit and help SAVE EXPLORE BOOKSELLERS & BISTRO before it is too late.Recently I was asked “Will independent bookstores become subsidized by towns in the future?” It seems now that any surviving bookstore is subsidized by someone: developers who want the cachet of a respected bookstore in their buildings; local philanthropists who want to keep their community’s spirit alive; the owners themselves, who either continually invest their own money into the business or work long hours without paying themselves.Everyone loves to wander the shelves of a quaint little bookstore, catching those everyday joys of discovering something new and unexpected. That quaint little bookstore can’t survive with skyrocketing real estate prices and rents. Not to mention the Internet, box-stores, and the like.It would be a shame that Aspen, one of the wealthiest, highly educated, communities in the world could not save such a wonderful, internationally known institution. The monies raised to save Explore will no doubt help keep an Aspen landmark alive for another generation to enjoy.Please keep alive Aspen’s reputation as a place where freedom of thought and expression thrive.Robert Harrison AikensFormer Explore Manager,Owner of Verbatim BooksellersVail