Thursday, January 16, 2014

Let's Talk About... Supporting Those Large Bookstores

On Monday, Alison at Alison Can Read wrote about how she thinks supporting her local Barnes & Noble is just as important--if not more so--than supporting indies. This sounds kind of radical, right? But it's really not. She brought up some great points (and you should just go read the post) about how much the book industry would suffer from the demise of Barnes & Noble as a whole. I wholeheartedly agree with each and everything she says.

I love to paint Amazon as the devil to people, and I actively discourage them from buying anything from them. I understand they have great deals and all, and I even buy all of my ebooks from them (I really like the Kindle app.) But supporting Barnes & Noble as a brick-and-mortar bookstore is crucial. (Really, this applies to any other brick-and-mortar stores, but at least in the US, there really aren't any others.) Like Alison says, not only does Barnes & Noble provide jobs for people in each store's community, but publishers employ people to work with Barnes & Noble. Authors gain huge amounts of exposure from being sold in Barnes & Noble. I know that when I worked at Pelican this summer, they were so thrilled when Barnes & Noble picked up a book from them to carry in stores. That meant the book was in front of people, more likely to be picked up given the smaller number of choices in a physical store over the internet.
 My home B&N.
Amazon--but especially books.

I don't have indie bookstores in either of the cities I spend most of my time. The closest one to me at home is over an hour away, and though I visit often, it's just not conducive to me spending large amounts of time or money there. At school, I don't even know of an indie within an hour. That means if I want to go pick up a book on a whim, I go to Barnes & Noble or I go to my library. I do both weekly.

I am not out of the ordinary when it comes to access to bookstores. I know of a lot of people who don't have a single bookstore close by. Most cities, even mid-sized ones like the two I spend most of my time in, absolutely cannot support an indie. But, they can support a store than can be a part of a larger company. They can support a store that sells a variety of items and serves as a gathering place. But, they really cannot support an indie and a larger store.

I think we get so obsessed with the idea that indies are dying and that we have to save them. And that's absolutely true! Keeping indies open is desperately important but, in that zeal, we also need to remember how important companies that serve a larger audience are as well. I get that indies have a certain atmosphere where you know the sellers, where the sellers may have a deep knowledge of books. But I've found that I've gotten to know the employees at my B&Ns just as well as those at the indies and that, while some B&N employees aren't the most knowledgeable, they're always friendly and eager to help. Share the love! Why can't we keep all brick-and-mortar bookstores open?

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