Support Indie Bookstores: Commerce or Philosophical Decision?
December 28, 2013 | 12:45 pm
By Joanna Cabot
Our usually reliable friends at GalleyCat had a post I included in the Morning Links which I have not stopped thinking about. The writer, Maryann Yin, contemplates the New Year’s Resolution phenomenon and proposes that those still in search of a worthy goal consider supporting independent bookstores.
The idea originated with a writer from Bustle who suggests that indie bookstores are more then just shops for books; they are also event spaces, philanthropic organizations and owners of pets. And it’s there that this ‘resolution’ lost me. I am supposed to support them because they have pets? My dad has four pets in his home, and as yet there has been no pet-owning tax for me to visit him. And you know, he does support philanthropic causes too…
My point is, to me an independent bookstore is a business. If they offer a product or service which interests me, I will support them and pay for that product or service. We do have a local specialty bookstore which sells only cookbooks, and I have heard they run fabulous book signing events where authors actually cook from their books and paying patrons can not just buy a book but taste the food too. I have seen other bookstores offer kid-themed events, or special bundles of some kind. I have recently seen a store offering a special ‘Alice Munro bundle’ in honour of her Nobel Prize win, and I applaud such creativity.
But to deserve my money simply for existing? No. To be worthy of a new year’s resolution ‘goal’ when most businesses would be laughed at merely for the suggesting of such a thing? No, no, no. Sell stuff I want, and I will support you. Fail to read the market and offer what people are looking for, and frankly, I think you deserve whatever consequences. Will I be supporting independent bookstores this year? Sure, if they have good stuff I want. But that is a commerce decision, not a philosophical one, and I think that is the way it should be.
Photo Credit: Elaine Showalter @ecshowalter