My focus for most of my life was business; often as a business owner. Even if this corona virus crisis ended immediately the business world will change. Many businesses will no longer exist. Much of what we considered normal about business will not return. The trend toward on-line purchases will continue and totally destroy the already weak retail organizations.
Amazon and Walmart will capture an incredible percent of total retail revenue. That is not good for anyone; maybe not even good for Amazon or Walmart.
In the 1960s and 70s my father was a retailer in a small town which was next door to a larger city. He sold shoes. His customers were his neighbors and friends. I worked in that store. It felt like no one came in who didn’t either know my dad or my mom. He extended credit to the people who needed it—even though he was not rich. He was active in local politics and was on the school board for many years. This is the America many people still dream about, although there were huge social problems right under the surface.
In what seemed like an overnight change, two large malls opened in the bigger city. There were twenty shoes stores in each mall that all opened on the same day—each of those stores was three, four or maybe ten times the size of my dad’s neighborhood store. His business changed overnight.
Their friends and neighbors still shopped at the local store, but almost immediately the older kids did not. They wanted to go to the mall and buy from the “cool” stores. And of course, even many of the friends bought from the mall because their prices were “better.”
I observed that dramatic change in retail close-up. Many described it as progress. But almost all of those small businesses that were the beating heart of the smaller town dried up; and their owners no longer had time to meet at the Lions Club or Kiwanis because they had lost their businesses and now were employees somewhere, often in the malls in the larger city. The small town government and school board became dominated by political activists not local business people.
My dad hung on longer than most. He worked harder and harder, but the level of business that had once been never returned. He eventually closed his stores and retired. What replaced those family shoes stores was different and definitely not something better. What was lost was a community.
Reader reviews nag at me. Some are good, even great; some are not. But I read them, all of them. Is that good, or just a waste of time? The average review of all of my books is above four stars—so by far the majority of readers like the books. As I have said before, the majority of bad reviews are because of language. My use of the F-word is, no doubt, not comfortable to some; and I will occasionally toss in other words that fall into that taboo category.
But there have been the reviews that seem to suggest I’m an idiot. The Greek root of idiot means a private person, or later a common man. Someone who was not an official or important person. Okay, I might be an idiot. Of course the word now means a foolish or stupid person. I might rub some people the wrong way, but I’m not a fool or stupid. So there!
Of course the reason I’m talking about reviews at all is because they are important to authors. The reason they are important is that they influence sales. Better reviews equal better book sales. The more books you sell; the better life looks. Yes, the quality of life is determined by book sales—oops that should not be said out-loud. Sure, there are other factors to happiness, but if you are an author who has spent hundreds if not thousands of hours writing books—book sales are a key element.