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A response to Slate.com’s “Don’t support your local bookstore” story

It seems ironic to me that on the same day we ran a story about the re-launch of The Booksellers at Laurelwood, which has overcome a lot of the familiar struggles facing bookstores around the country, Slate.com ran a piece under the headline “Don’t Support Your Local Bookstore.”

The subhead claimed “Buying books on Amazon is better for authors, better for the economy and better for you.”

How about it, book-lovers? What do you think of these lines from the Slate writer? –

“If you’re a novelist – not to mention a reader, a book publisher, or anyone else who cares about a vibrant book industry – you should thank (Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos) for crushing that precious indie on the corner.”

“Bookstores present a frustrating consumer experience.”

“An independent bookstore’s shelves don’t have much to do with your community.”

I don’t know about everyone else, but I’ve never had trouble finding what I’m looking for at the Booksellers at Laurelwood or Burke’s. If they don’t have it, they’re happy to order it.

Everything’s labeled. The staff is friendly. The only thing frustrating I’ve found is I always want more than I can afford.

The Slate writer goes on to lament the recommendation system at bookstores (which often come in the form of staff picks) versus Amazon’s recommended buys for you, which are based on what you’ve bought and searched for in the past.

The writer seems to imply the bookstore recommendations are somehow rigged, since no one buys movie tickets based on what the ticket taker at a movie box office recommends. (How many ticket takers have to demonstrate their movie knowledge before they get the job, though, in the same way booksellers have to often prove their knowledge of the field before they’re hired at indies?)

And then there’s the old thing about price. That’s where the Slate writer says Amazon is unbeatable, since you can find titles – even otherwise expensive new releases – at big markdowns.

Something tells me the writer really doesn’t believe his own argument that he only buys the cheapest product he can. Otherwise, whenever he eats out, I’m sure he never chooses anything more expensive than McDonald’s.

Because, c’mon, they’ve got burgers for a buck. You can’t beat value.

 

Comments

  1. slchockley says:

    But you wouldn’t go to an expensive local restaurant and pay more than $1 for a McDonald’s hamburger, right? The Slate author is saying that the Steve Jobs biography is the same book whether you pay a lot or a little for it. It’s not shocking to learn that most Americans want to pay the least amount possible for something, right?

    That said, there is a lot more to the bookstore experience than book price- things Amazon can’t replicate.

  2. linkdeas says:

    Andy Meek definitely discloses his passion for independent businesses, specifically bookstores in Memphis. I’m glad that at least now when he mentions the Booksellers at Laurelwood, we don’t have to question his bias- since his wife does not work there anymore.

Dansette

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