Not just any bookstore, but specifically this bookstore: Montague Bookmill in Montague, Massachusetts. Seth Godin sums it up well when he stated:
This is the bookstore of the future, because it’s not a business trying to maximize growth and ROI. No, it’s a place, an attitude, an approach to an afternoon. They don’t sell every book, they don’t even pretend to. Just as vinyl records persist, an object of joy for some listeners and a profitable cottage business for some sellers, bookstores are going to become like gift stores. The goal isn’t a commodity transaction with maximum selection at minimum price, the goal is an experience worth seeking out and paying for.
One look at the photo tour and it is easy to see that this place has charm, personality and gives everyone an experience that is not like any other bookstore. This bookstore shares the space with a café, a restaurant, an artist’s studio, and an antiques store. This creates a community of experience for tourists, and through the bringing in of guest artists, something the local community can return to frequently. This business becomes integrated into people’s lifestyle because it is based on experience.
In the April 2010 issue of American Theatre magazine, Michael Rohd, Artistic Director of Sojourn Theatre, encourages us to rethink the relationship of theater and community, “One thing that gets said a lot about theatre is that a bunch of people come into a room and they laugh and they cry together in the dark, and that builds community. But I’m starting to think that’s bullshit: People crave something that involves more than sitting and watching.”
Theater can no longer have people sit in their seats for two hours and then call it community if they hope to have the yonder generations as audience members. Much like Montague Bookmill has the other venues on the premises, a theater organization, that has multiple spaces, can provide opportunities for performances by the other theater companies in the area, especially theater companies that are not doing the work that is being done by the larger organization. People crave an experience where they can participate and be in the mix. Granted, for some people participation means sitting and watching, and space should be given for that, but for others, sitting in a dark theater for two hours does not define connecting with people. How can a theater make room for both these experiences? What new models can be explored to begin to ask how audience members can be involved more than simply sitting and watching? How can we break down the fourth wall that has been built under the mantle of American realism?
Dennis Baker lives the ultimate freelance life as an actor, teaching artist, fight director and also working in web design, web development and search engine optimization. You can follow him on Twitter: @dennisbaker