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Still, some of these kids have started to buy our books anyway, textbooks especially. Do you sell textbooks? You won't for long. Expect print textbooks to go away sooner than later, likely much sooner - and if textbooks comprise a significant portion of your sales, guess what you're going to have to do?

Many of these kids, however, are also starting to buy our CDs and DVDs. What's that you say? You're not selling this stuff? What are you - a purist or something? Despite your deep bibliomaniacal roots, if things were slowing down for you, you could have steeled yourself and made this adaptation years ago.

Oh, wait, I get it; you're one of those antiquarian booksellers. You only sell collected books. Them objet d'art things. Ah, tradition. By the way, how's it going? Sales booming? If not, well, I invite you to go back to that same 15-to-25-year window into the past for at least a partial answer. And further back as well to note that serious book collectors are ageing out of the marketplace. Of course, you're really not in it for the big money anyway, right?

Seriously, even if you are an antiquarian bookseller and make a decent living - and there's no shortage of those that do - there's a good chance you'll be able to carry on a few more years, maybe more than a few, and some of these businesses are in fact growing as we speak. But even so, not everybody is cut out to be an antiquarian bookseller. To be successful at it, you have to devote significant parts of lifetimes to learning how. Even if you love it, it isn't easy to make a go of things - and besides, there are only so many of these "objets" floating around. Few things that are conventionally regarded as zero sum games actually are, but this is one of the exceptions. Sure, new collectibles are being created every day, but more and more often they take the form of something other than books.

The reality is that we all know this bookselling game is slowly going away, though some of us won't admit it. It's a hard reality to face. It isn't just because kids aren't drawn to books as much now. It's also because books themselves are mass-evolving into digitized formats, which in turn manifest as e-texts, CDs, PODs and so on. If you're close to retirement or need only a hobby income, no problem. If you're forty- or fiftysomething and need to make a serious part- or full-time living, on the other hand, you might have some thinking to do. Over the coming weeks I'd like to think along with you. I have no idea how many parts there will be to this series or even what I'm going to say, but I have at least a few of those adaptation ideas to kick around - and maybe something useful will come out of it. Stay tuned!

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