So, by now we’re all aware of the Hachette vs. Amazon conundrum, correct? There have been many, many blogs, news articles, tweets, and general things written about this feud. My favorite, however, is the Book Riot post called Your Local Brick & Mortar Bookstore is a Privilege. It made me think a lot about how so often, I see bloggers, authors, and readers encouraging others to support local independent bookstores.
Which is great! I totally get this, I really do. I try to shop locally when I can. I don’t live in a big city, so it’s not always possible, but I attempt something, even if it’s just shopping at the state-based chain instead of the worldwide-based chain. But when it comes to bookstores, I don’t have that option, and I’m definitely not alone. The nearest independent bookstores are in Round Rock, Austin, and Dallas–at least an hour and a half.
Now, I don’t live in a “book desert” as defined by the Book Riot article. There is a Barnes & Nobles in town, which I shop at sometimes. It’s on the smaller side for a B&N, but it’s still not the smallest B&N I’ve ever seen, so there are some options. The selection is quite limited though–mostly newer releases. Except for bestsellers, you’d be hard-pressed to find a book published before 2011, at least in the teen section. There’s also a Hastings Entertainment store in my town, which is my favorite place to buy books, as they have older titles & also sell used books(and their used books are always in GREAT condition if they’re on the normal shelves–the only ones in anything less than that are only found on the clearance shelves).
There’s also two used bookstores, which are the closest to local independent bookstores. But these are entirely used books. I love these stores, at times, but they’re not my go-tos for obvious reasons. One is small and cramped and is an unpleasant shopping experience. The other is nice and roomy but completely disorganized. Neither have the best environments to buy books.
So that’s where I’m left at, in my large town. Two chain stores, two used bookstores. And I consider myself lucky, since the tiny town I grew up in definitely did not have that. In my hometown, the only place to even purchase a book was the grocery store–and they had only bestsellers(which makes sense, since they had about a half shelf for books). There were Wal-Marts in two towns(about 20 minutes away) that sold some books. The nearest entertainment store was 35 minutes. The nearest, pure bookstore? At least an hour away, and probably more.
So when I’m encouraged to buy books from my local independent bookseller. . . I’m not sure what to do.
Again, I do have choices where to buy books. I do shop online quite a bit, and no, I don’t always use Amazon(and since the Hachette thing, I’m giving Amazon some distance for awhile, at least for books. Though I do have a Kindle so I’m sure I’ll be back to Amazon at some point).
When I talk about this, someone usually points out that several independent bookstores have online shops and will ship books now. Which is true, and something I’ve utilized before for signed books. However. . . it’s not the same. I encourage and support those independent stores. I do. But they’re not *MY* local store. I hope they thrive for the sake of their communities, but I don’t have the same vested interest in it. Those stores aren’t local for me–and if it comes down to buying a book from a local independent bookstore hundreds of miles away from me or from buying a book at a chain store in my town, I’ll pick the chain store. Because this is my town and I want those bookstores to survive.
So what am I to do?
I’ll suppose I’ll keep doing what I’ve been doing–supporting the chain stores here and visiting independent bookstores when I’m in the area(which isn’t very often). Other than that, there’s not much for me to do in the rallying cry of supporting independent bookstores.