Lay Offs at Powell’s

This seems like a bad sign: Powell’s bookstore announced that it would be laying off 31 employees on Tuesday due to “the economy, decline of book sales and rising health care costs.” There will certainly be more news from the book world on this, but you can read a preliminary article here.

I’m troubled to here that Powell’s is going through a difficult time–I’ve never even been to the actual store and still love it (great online selection! weekly book reviews curated by the National Book Critics Circle!). But the majority of my sympathies are with the employees who were laid off. Besides the obvious horror of loosing one’s job, there’s also the stress of the pre-announcement that Powell’s made: apparently an email memo announcing that there would be substantial lay-offs later in the day was circulated on Tuesday morning.


One thought on “Lay Offs at Powell’s

  1. What I got from library school was that stuff in books is really only “information” and as such can be detached from the form it’s conveyed in with no loss.
    But is that all there is to it? Our introductory cataloging teacher said ultimately it’s all just electro-chemical reactions in our brains. Shakespeare converted them to marks on paper, bound together in books and we convert them to computer files.

    Looking at it this way is convenient but something in the equation is lost and we get unsatisfying results. I think physical books are monuments to the excitement and insight we gain through reading. Closing bookstores is like closing a church – you lose all those saint statues, all those immemorial associations, those friendly handshakes, signs of peace.
    On the other hand I always want to renew the excitement of discovery over and over, which seems more important than the paper manifestation.


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