White Paper- PitAndThePendulum

Working Hypothesis

For my research essay I will examine the conditions under which small businesses (specifically, bookstore) survive or fail. As the traditional bookshop is few and far between, one can reasonably assume that the rise of online bookselling (ex: Amazon) is to blame. Online booksellers provide convenience as well as reduced prices, which is enough to sway most consumers to purchase their products and neglect smaller, independent booksellers. 

In order for a small business, especially an independently owned and operated bookshop, to survive, they must sell an experience that their internet and corporate competitors cannot offers.


  1. “Shopping for Community: The Transformation of a Bookstore Into a Vital Community Institution”


Background: This study from the University of Western Ontario illustrates the establishment of the independent bookshop as a communal center and the fight against large corporate booksellers.

How I Intend to Use It: I intend to use this source to establish the importance of the bookshop as not only an economic community pillar, but as a social one as well.

2. “Prices and Price Dispersion on the Web: Evidence from the Online Book Industry”


Background: This study primarily focuses on price comparison and dispersion among online booksellers.

How I Intend to Use It: I intend to use this source to elaborate the growing monopoly of online booksellers and the use of price cuts to deter competition.

3. “On the Competition Between an Online Bookstore and a Physical Bookstore”


Background: This study gives a deeper insight into the benefits and drawbacks of both physical and online booksellers.

How I Intend to Use It: As this study indicates the competitiveness between online and physical bookstores, as well as welfare analysis, I intend to use this source to further elaborate upon my argument against online booksellers.

4. “Reinventing Retail: The Novel Resurgence of Independent Bookstores”


Background: This study by Harvard Business School examines the vital aspects that a bookstore must possess in order to survive against its online competitors.

How I Intend to Use It: I intend to use this source as a part of my counterintuitive argument to present strategies to benefit the physical bookstore.

5. “The Effect of Sales Promotion and Store Atmosphere Mediated by Positive Emotion on Impulse Buying for Customers in Bookstores”


Background: This study examines the psychology behind what store environments are favorable and attract costumers and what designs and environments don’t.

How I Intend to Use It: I intend to use this as yet another source to emphasize how physical bookstores must offer an environment that online bookstores cannot in order to maintain clientele.


  • Intro to recent rise in independent bookstore business 


  • How businesses lose clientele to online competitors due to pricing 


  • How businesses lose clientele to online competitors due to variety 


  • How businesses lose clientele to online competitors due to convenience 


  • The impact of social media, current trends, and the rise of ‘indie’ culture on the independent bookstore industry 


  • Independent bookstores must sell an experience that their online competition cannot offer 
  • Offer a sense of community/ comfort 
  • Store environment and location effect 

Business Model/ Personal Exploration: Inkwood Books, Haddonfield NJ 

  • higher priced literature stock (typical of business) 
  • “Monthly picks” for different genres and books recommended by the staff- aspect of hand selling 
  • Host events with local authors 
  • Host monthly book club meetings 
  • Community- Host elementary Book fair 
  • Sell products from local artisans- candles, prints/postcards, mugs, tote bags 
  • Separate section w/ play area for kids 
  • Couches and cushions scattered around shelves to sit and browse/read selections 
  • Location: Main Street Haddonfield (shopping district), next to coffee shop 
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1 Response to White Paper- PitAndThePendulum

  1. davidbdale says:

    When you first posted it, this was a preliminary assignment. It passed then, but the stakes on this assignment keep rising, PitAndPendulum.

    Use this White Paper to take Notes and record your impressions of your sources AS YOU READ THEM, the best way to begin converting your research material into language of your own you can export to your short arguments when it’s time to draft them.

    You haven’t interacted with your sources much HERE, but you do earn credit for planning an outline of a short argument, and for taking notes about your Test Subject, Inkwood Books. Good plan.

    This post will be regraded from time to time, or on your specific request.


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