This gripping documentary chronicles the devastating effect of giant book chains on the country's independent bookstores.
During the golden years of the independents, there were 5,200 members of the American Booksellers Association -- -- today there are fewer than 3,000.
To illustrate this erosion, the film focuses on several leading independent California bookstores, such as Printers, Inc. and Bookshop Santa Cruz, which had flourished for over twenty years.
The film depicts their struggles to stay afloat. Traditionally, these stores have offered their customers a wide choice of material, not willing to have their stock selection be governed principally by bottom line considerations.
They have represented an outlet for the works of new and unheralded authors. Today, major publishing houses often submit manuscripts by new authors to chain store executives who decide whether the book, if published, would be given shelf space.
If the answer is negative, the author may not be published.
At a city council meeting in Capitola, citizens voice their opinions on whether to allow a Borders into their town. Representatives of Borders give their point of view. They maintain that consumers should be allowed their choice of shopping venues.
Printers, Inc. went out of business during the filming of this documentary, as well as several other small bookstores that appear in the film. By giving bookstore owners, employees, customers, executives, civic leaders and an industry analyst a chance to express their viewpoints, the film allows the viewer to appraise the threat that giant chains pose for American culture and diversity.