10 Moments of Innovation Zen

10 Moments of Innovation Zen

I don’t know about you, but I’m rather tired of the non-stop hysteria that seems to be occurring these days. Between COVID-19, politics, the economy, and the state of Tom Brady’s contract (sorry, I live in Boston), it seems that the world is having a panic attack.

Namaste, people. Namaste.

In an effort to not contribute to the panic, instead of writing something topical and relating it to innovation, I’m simply going to share images of something that makes me extremely happy and peaceful and relate them to innovation.


I love books. I love reading them, looking at them, talking about them, and just being amongst them. In the days before Amazon, I would go to bookstores and simply sit in the aisle because it was the most calming and energizing thing I could think of. Don’t even get me started on the sheer joy of going into The Stacks in a library.

But as Amazon grew and the big chain bookstores shrank or went out of business, my opportunities for moments of book-filled zen became fewer and far between.

That’s why I love what independent bookstores are doing. They are innovating too, by changing the business they’re in. They’re no longer in the book-selling business (Amazon won that battle), they’re in the book experience business.

The Book Experience business is everything that Amazon.com can’t offer — discovery, community, an environment that stimulates all your 5 senses. Don’t believe me? Why do you think Amazon is opening physical book stores?

Yes, it takes time, money, risk, and resources to re-define the business you’re in but it’s worth it because it not only keeps you in business, it creates a competitive advantage that lasts.

And may even create moments of zen.

An interior view of the Zhongshuge bookstore in Chongqing, Oct. 22, 2019. VCG

People browse for books at a new store with wraparound shelving units in Hohhot, Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region, April 21, 2019. IC

An interior view of the Sanlian Taofen bookstore in Ningbo, Zhejiang province. From @设计美学志 on Weibo

An interior view of the Zhongshuge bookstore in Beijing, June 26, 2019. VCG

Libreria Acqua Alta, Venice

Livraria Lello, Porto

Shakespeare & Co, Paris

The Last Bookstore, Los Angeles, United States

Cook & Book, Brussels Belgium

Saraiva, Rio de Janeiro