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The Final Chapter: How Independent Booksellers Can Adapt to a Changing Industry

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The purpose of this thesis is to examine the current state of the brick-and-mortar bookselling industry, with particular focus on independent bookstores and their strengths and weaknesses, and synthesizing recommendations for these bookstores to reinvent themselves in a rapidly changing

The purpose of this thesis is to examine the current state of the brick-and-mortar bookselling industry, with particular focus on independent bookstores and their strengths and weaknesses, and synthesizing recommendations for these bookstores to reinvent themselves in a rapidly changing market. This examination is highly relevant given recent concerns that, with the rise of e-retailers like Amazon and the closure of bookstore chain Borders, brick-and-mortar bookstores may be superseded by new digital vendors. Independent bookstores are thought to be at a particular disadvantage to these retailers, given their limited size and resources, as well as the lack of capital or consumer base that a larger chain like Barnes and Noble can draw upon to invest in emerging technology. With these more limited financial opportunities, independent bookstores must find different ways to not only keep abreast of the technology that consumers are coming to expect from modern businesses, but attract customers.
To gain insight into the state of the industry and current position of independent bookstores, I will first examine the past fifty years of the brick-and-mortar bookstore, followed by a Porter’s Five Forces analysis of the industry threats and a SWOT analysis to compare the strengths and weaknesses of independent bookstores. Next, the patrons of independent bookstores will be discussed with a focus on the two largest consumer groups of Millennials and Baby Boomers, their characteristics, and the opportunities they provide to bookstores. After this there will be an exploration of the competitors to brick-and-mortar bookstores, focusing on Amazon and then touching on some of the other rivals to bookstores’ consumer base. The next section will be an in-depth analysis of a variety of bookstores across the United States, with attention to their successful practices, goals, concerns, and failures. First, there will be a comparison of industry success and failure through case studies of Borders and Powell’s bookstores. Next, there will be a comparison of five beloved independent bookstores across the country to share their varied competitive advantages that are the secret to their success. Finally, there are primary source interviews with the employees of three major Phoenix bookstores, which provide insight into the goals, current projects, attitudes, and inner strengths of these businesses. Finally, the thesis will conclude with a section offering solutions and suggestions for independent bookstores to pursue based on the primary and secondary research discussed above. These recommendations are focused on five key areas:
• Community
• Consumers
• Store Design
• Technology
• Diversification
Ultimately, the information provided by this research and these interviews indicates that while vital business changes are being pursued by independent and chain bookstores across the United States, the independent bookstore shows no signs of disappearing in favor of online vendors or e-readers.

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Date Created
2017-05

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Paraprosdokian: A Short Story Collection

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Paraprosdokian is a collection of stories about all different types of lives in Phoenix, AZ. There are several stories that work together, involving lonely teenagers at punk house shows, while the rest standalone: the eclectic interactions of a waiter at

Paraprosdokian is a collection of stories about all different types of lives in Phoenix, AZ. There are several stories that work together, involving lonely teenagers at punk house shows, while the rest standalone: the eclectic interactions of a waiter at a 24-hour diner, a blind fair ride operator with a propensity for accidental murder, a hapless son of a clumsy dental assistant, a literary scholar stuck in an addiction to both Kafka and pornography, a kid who learns that writing is not a formula, and a high school death that nobody cares about. Some pieces unfold parts of 21st century culture that have been knotted in ambivalence, like how men raised on pornography reconcile with intimacy, while others are as simple as trying to encapsulate the experience of growing up in what is often perceived as an artless suburbia. The project aims at mixing prose with photography to create, as Ben Lerner describes it, “a constellation of language and image”—a complete artistic product. Using the work of a local Arizona photographer, the collection complicates a reader’s elementary notion of a “picture book” by forcing the reader to view photographs beyond exposition or symbolism. The title of the collection comes from a term used in comedic rhetoric that refers to a figure of speech in which the latter part of a statement or phrase reorients one’s understanding of the whole. Under this definition, the collection seeks to amend its author and reader’s orientation to Phoenix in a quest for empathy, giving pathetic characters a chance to speak without ever sacrificing a touch of humorous joy.

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Date Created
2018-05

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Identifying with Fictional Characters

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The study of literature, which has traditionally been the work of the humanities, has seemingly opened up to biology in recent years through an infusion of cognitive science and evolutionary psychology. This essay examines two perspectives on the potential for

The study of literature, which has traditionally been the work of the humanities, has seemingly opened up to biology in recent years through an infusion of cognitive science and evolutionary psychology. This essay examines two perspectives on the potential for reader/character identification, one perspective from cognitive/evolutionary studies, and the other from the humanities. Building on both perspectives, I propose my own notion of reader/character identification called immersive identification. I argue that fiction is especially suited to prompt readers to identify with fictional characters in an immersive way. Then, I demonstrate how different cognitive/evolutionary perspectives of fiction can accommodate my notion of immersive identification. Finally, I defend my account of immersive identification against a counterexample.

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Created

Date Created
2014-05

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Do Not Fear The Fictions

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The Paradox of Fiction can be understood as the acceptance of three plausible but inconsistent claims: Claim 1. We are genuinely moved by fiction Claim 2. We know that what is portrayed by fiction is not actual Claim 3. We

The Paradox of Fiction can be understood as the acceptance of three plausible but inconsistent claims: Claim 1. We are genuinely moved by fiction Claim 2. We know that what is portrayed by fiction is not actual Claim 3. We are only genuinely moved by what we believe is actual. Taken individually, we intuitively accept each of the claims, however, they form a contradiction when taken together. The issue at hand is although we observe many instances of fiction moving a spectator/reader to tears, we know that the grief we observe does not reference an existent entity. How can we grieve at the death of Mercutio in "Romeo and Juliet" when Mercutio never existed let alone died? How can we fear a monster we know exists only in the world of a film? Many theories have been proposed to dissolve this paradox, and I focus on the ones that approach the puzzle by rejecting one of the above three claims. I examine some of these theories and explain why they fail to solve the paradox, and in doing so I demonstrate that the Make-Believe Theory succeeds where the others failed. Make-Believe Theory rejects Claim 1 and I shall prove that although unintuitive, we are completely justified in claiming that we are not genuinely moved by fiction. Instead, when we are moved by fictions, we are moved in a similar way to how a child is moved in a game of make-believe.

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Date Created
2015-05

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Empty Horizons

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Abstract "Empty Horizons": A Creative Writing Piece Max Harmon "Empty Horizons" is a creative writing piece composed of two different short stories sharing a common narrator. The first story "Can you dig it?" details a trip the narrator takes to

Abstract "Empty Horizons": A Creative Writing Piece Max Harmon "Empty Horizons" is a creative writing piece composed of two different short stories sharing a common narrator. The first story "Can you dig it?" details a trip the narrator takes to South Dakota to go hunting shortly before starting college. On the trip the narrator contemplates certain aspects of his life and the events of the story serve as a vehicle to explore the narrator's mindset as an eighteen year old about to start a new phase in his life. The second story "Toads, Sharks and Beautiful Encounters with Uncertainty" takes place during the summer before the narrator begins his last semester in college as he attends the funeral of his recently deceased grandmother in Hawaii. During the trip to Hawaii, the narrator meets a girl his age and they are able to bond with each other over feelings of loss and uncertainty. In this story the narrator explores his feelings about life with college graduation on the horizon and comes to terms with some of the anxieties that have been plaguing him since the start of college. By detailing these two distinct and important time periods in the narrator's life the reader is able to gain a sense of understanding in regards to the narrator's own process of beginning life as an adult.

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Created

Date Created
2014-12