It was sad to read the news this morning that one of our oldest national book shop chains was in financial trouble but its not too surprising. Over the years, the way people receive information has changed and book shops and stationers everywhere will be struggling to maintain their relevance to customers.
Retailers such as Whitcoulls are not alone in the struggle.
The New Zealand Society of Genealogists, a society formed to promote and enable the study of family history suffers the same problem. The council elected to run the society and many members would deny this fervently. But they belong to an old school of thought which follows a 'tried and true' policy which rules out innovation and speed in adaptation to our fast changing world of communication and the delivery of services to members.
Anyone who has shopped at Whitcoulls regularly over the years may have noticed the chain's lack of innovation and adaptability. It's been comforting to have a reminder of the old days around in our shopping malls. I hope they survive in some form.
The Nzsg roundly defended the old days last year when a group of members challenged this state of affairs among other issues at a special meeting. Since then it seems to have gone to sleep peacefully, prod it and you are unlikely to get a response. The local group meetings are still good value though, there you get to a chance to communicate and catch up on news. But forget the national body, it only wakes up briefly to fend off the future.