Some opinionist at Slate (in an attempt to get web traffic, therefore no link) says indie or local bookshops aren’t that important. We sell a lot of books at Amazon and in the chains but Small Beer Press basically wouldn’t exist without the support of indie bookshops. Park Road Books in Charlotte, NC, has sold 50+ copies of Mockingbird. Bailey/Coy has sold 200+ copies of Stranger Things Happen. These are booksellers who will read a new writer, such as Alan DeNiro, and put his book into customers hands — not everyone, but everyone who might appreciate it.
When you pay full price for a book at Your Local Bookshop, you’re paying part of someone’s salary, part of the rent and real estate taxes, a tiny proportion of their next plumber’s bill, etc., as well as a full 50-60% of the book’s price to the publisher or distributor. When you pay 65% (i.e. 35% discount) of the price, the publisher is getting a maximum of 35-45% of the price and you’re not putting any money into your local economy. You’re choosing against your village/town/city’s future — which, if you are just waiting to burn rubber on your way out of there, is fine. But if you intend to live there for a while….
We do a lot of traveling and so many towns look more and more alike that it’s scary. America has always liked the accessibility of malls, but has also always celebrated uniqueness and the entrepreneurial spirit. The rise in independent business alliances and local campaigns (such as Keep Austin Weird) are one effective method of reminding people to support their neighbors. I understand that if you live in a town with no local bookshop/music shop/video store, then your choices are limited. But if you don’t, please think where and who you are supporting when you buy your books. And, as always and of course, thanks for reading in the first place.
* True but incredibly stupid as library budgets aren’t at the beck and call of every user and are forever being squeezed or cut. Library users can suggest titles but they’re not always picked up.