Readers have advice for indie bookstores and mixed reviews for Dennis Brown 

STAGE, MARCH 24, 2011
BEES IN THEIR BONNETS
Standing up to a jaded critic: Poor Dennis, you completely missed the fun of Beehive ["The Clap Trap," Dennis Brown]. It was a joyous show, with good singing, dancing (yes! dancing!) and a brief look back in time. The audience loved it!

This offering wasn't intended to be deep, although there was content for the aware. The friend who went with me said on the way out, "There was a message there in the changing roles of women. At the beginning it was all about pleasing some man, and then women became stronger." Strong enough, perhaps, to stand up to pseudo-intellectual putdowns.

I wonder if perhaps you should hand the writing of reviews over to someone less...jaded. I know it's rude to make such personal remarks, but since you brought up the matter of age in your critique of the beautiful and talented performers, I feel it's only fair.
Mary Garrett, St. Peters

FEATURE, MARCH 17, 2011
THE BOOKSTORE BANDWAGON
Coupons won't do it: Indies need to redefine the battle ["Band of Bookstores," Aimee Levitt]. They cannot compete with Amazon on price and volume — not with coupons, bookstore cruises or anything else — because Amazon can sell the books for less than your cost. Gimmicks cannot overcome the monstrous economic disadvantage.

To survive, you must sell what they cannot. What does Amazon not have? People — knowledgeable, helpful, caring, interesting people. Setting — a good bookstore is a place people feel they have ownership; a comfort zone with friends and potential friends, and a warmth that cannot be stockpiled in a warehouse and delivered by FedEx on demand. Plot — where people and place come together, stories happen and intertwine.

A good bookstore is like a good book come to life. It is that experience and those relationships that set it apart from the electronic newcomers with their cold efficiency. You have to get people, especially young people raised in the glow of their many devices, to look up and walk in and give them a chance to recognize the value you are providing.

You may not be in the business of selling books, as much as the business of selling people, place and plot.
Ralpheatsbeef, via the Internet

Paging Nancy Drew: I just tried to find some used bookstores in the St. Louis area, but only 4 out of the 50-plus stores have decent websites. I don't exactly know how search-engine marketing works, but bookstores need to get on top of getting themselves known on the Internet. At least make it so that if I type "used bookstores st. louis," your store comes up, and I don't have to do detective work to find out where you are. It's even hard to find bookstores on sites like Yelp and Citysearch.

So yeah, Amazon might be killing indie stores, but they're not using the Internet to help themselves, either.
Bunny N., via the Internet

FEATURE, MARCH 10, 2011
IN THE NAME OF THE FATHER
Priestly praise: A couple of weeks ago, I picked up a copy of the RFT when I happened to notice the cover ("Forgive Me Father, For I Have Cinema'ed," Dennis Brown). I'm sorry it took me a while to get around to reading your feature. Although I had heard about this movie more than 30 years ago in professor Avis Meyer's film class when I was a journalism major at Saint Louis University, I have never seen The Hoodlum Priest.

I was not only fascinated with your interesting account of how the film was made, and the controversies surrounding the production and distribution of the picture, I thoroughly enjoyed your writing style. I took the time this afternoon to read some of your theater reviews. There is a natural flow to your writing, and your well-crafted phrases and seamless transitions make your articles enjoyable to read.

My compliments to you. I look forward to reading more features from you in the future.
William Ruby, Chesterfield

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