While the future of big box bookstores is uncertain, smaller bookstores have had a resurrgence over the past couple of years. Most of these book shops strive to bring knowledge to the community. Some like Libros Shmibros in Boyle Heights (actually a lending library) have become beacons for community activism.
There are other types of bookstores that are more of a distribution center for a specific publisher, like Taschen at the Grove. These publishers' shops are sales driven and they only sell books. Books by their publisher. The tight branding and emphasis on sales feels more like the Gap than a neighborhood book shop or a big box book store like Borders or Barnes and Noble.
On a recent trip to Las Vegas, I had a chance to see the newest flagship store of one of these ultra branded publisher stores. Assouline has an amazing collection of art and culture books. If the Taschen shop at the Grove is like the Gap, then Assouline at City Center is like Gucci. Little vignettes with perfect lighting and a sense of brand narrative create an Assouline experience. The crisp installations and openness and attention to detail create a sense of exclusivity. When a shopper visits Assouline, they are experiencing Assouline, and just so happen to be looking at and possibly buying books.