Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Please Buy Holiday Gifts at Independent Bookstores!

For those of you doing holiday shopping, please consider doing so at independent bookstores. Books are such great gifts, and we need to support our independent bookstores, the numbers of which are shrinking. I have never republished one of my blogposts before, but today -- in order to summarize reasons to patronize independent bookstores -- I reprint below my post of 2/11/10. (Although I have to note an update: nowadays some of the chains have also gone out of business, and the main competition to independent bookstores is online sellers. But the reasons for sticking with independent bookstores remain the same.) "At the risk of preaching to the converted, I urge readers to spend their money at independent bookstores rather than at the large chains or online vendors. Some of the many reasons to do so are as follows: 1. Local, independent bookstores are more individualized, often more specialized. They are attuned to their local customers and their locales. They do their own buying, rather than having a national office make decisions for the whole country. 2. Booksellers at independent bookstores are usually more knowledgeable about books. 3. Independent bookstores often have great readings and classes. It is true that some chains do as well, but the local bookstores can focus on local authors and cater to local interests. 4. Independent bookstores are more community-oriented. They often have programs that benefit local schools and other community institutions. 5. Statistics show that a much higher percentage of profits of independent bookstores goes back into the local community; profits don't go to the national corporate offices as they do with the chains. 6. Chains are often predatory, moving in very nearby to existing independent bookstores, undercutting the prices of those bookstores (because they have the corporate resources to do so), driving them out, and then sometimes raising prices again. (I have seen this happen in the area where I live; a few years back we lost the beloved A Clean Well Lighted Place for Books, here in Marin County, this way.)"

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