Her niche has led to customers coming from as far away as Napa, just because they know she has or will get what they want. One customer from Sacramento "comes once a month to see the latest books I've gotten about Vietnam. Another comes from Fresno to see what I've got on the Far East."
Both women agree on a key but overlooked part of print's survival -- what it feels like to touch the page. "I don't want to hold a Kindle in bed," Jacque says. "People still will want that tactile stimulation." Her pet peeve: parents who put children to bed letting them hold hand-held devices to read a bedtime story. "There's no interaction," she says, "between parent and child."
Adds Nancy: "One of the things that keeps people buying books is the tactile sensation. There's a charm to coming in and browsing and seeing something you weren't even looking for."
Books aren't newspapers. The Sun-Star and our parent, McClatchy, are charging into the digital world, avatars flying. Our website, www.mercedsunstar.com, has become Merced's coffee shop, its water cooler, its village well, where hundreds of conversations go on every day.
Maybe nobody under 30 in our county reads a printed newspaper. Except when they want to, such as when Le Grand High's football team made its run to the state championship game. But thousands of other Mercedians do read our newspaper every day. Maybe that number will drop.
But the calls and emails and letters and conversations from our audience strongly suggest that when something really matters to them, they want to see it in print. Birth of a child. Death of a parent. Marriage. Horoscope. Comics. A website update just won't do.
So if you're reading this at the breakfast table and happen to spill coffee on the front page, no sweat. We'll print another one for you tomorrow.
Executive Editor Mike Tharp can be reached at (209) 385-2456 or firstname.lastname@example.org.