Friday, June 23, 2006

A Brief Word about Book Purchasing

To amplify a point from my last post below...even though I link to Amazon on this page (because I need sales for my book any way I can get 'em) I should note that, in a perfect world, anyone wanting my book (or any other) would go to the nearest independent bookseller and either purchase or order the book there.

Many of you know my wife, Stephanie Lauer, works for Reno's last independent bookstore, Sundance Books. It's everything a bookstore should be--diverse, staffed with book lovers, friendly--and which so many chain stores are not. And I say this with regret--when I was in high school, Indianapolis's best bookshop was Borders, hands down. But Borders and Barnes and Noble and other big chains have, unsurprisingly, eroded in quality the bigger they've gotten. They've also adopted predatory business practice, using their size in order to receive new titles before independents, and earning discounts the little shops can't.

It's axiomatic in my world that true book people are truly good people. If you think you're the former, please don't reward the huge box stores for their size. Don't use Amazon just because it's a web-click away. Go to an independent and chat with people like Stephanie, who read voraciously, who want to put a good book in your hands themselves, for the love of it. Or if you're in New York City, go see Otto Penzler's Mysterious Bookshop (where I bet he'd be happy to sell you MURDER IN THE ROUGH)...

Don't know a good independent? Check Booksense for one in your neck of the woods.


David Runyon said...

I agree that places like independent bookstores are nice. And I have the highest respect for those who try to preserve this way of life. In a perfect world of picket fences and two point three children, this idea holds strong. But the truth of the matter is that big corporations are successful for a reason- that they were once independent mom and pop places, and the way they won and beat out the other places was partially because they prayed on them- it's just good business. It sucks, but it's the way things work. The mom and pop places need our support in order to pull through. But it absolutely cannot be done with our support only. They have to take a step toward becoming a big corporation, or they will fail. In other words, support these places if you must, but if they become successful, you may not like what they become. You can't have your cake and eat it too.

On a side note, Mr. Coake, I am reading "We're In Trouble" as we speak, and it's unbelievably good. Honestly, you are going to be among the authors English teachers require their kids to read. I have never read a book that I liked the author's writing style as much as yours.

Christopher Coake said...


First, thanks for the kind words--much appreciated!

Second, you make an important point. My wife and I (who have both worked in the book business) both wonder how to make a small business succeed, and yet still feel small--in all the right ways.

But, while I like both having and eating cake, there's something to be said for having an ideal, at least. I hope--I really do--that there's a definition of "good business" that doesn't automatically mean "crush the competition." Just as I try to find a definition of "capitalist consumer" that doesn't require me to go to the nearest big box for whatever I need.

It's tricky, though--look at Starbucks. They're regularly mentioned as a good employer, and they are concerned (or act concerned) about issues that also concern me. On the other hand, they've opened up across the street from homegrown coffee shops I love, both here in Reno and back in Columbus, which seems needlessly predatory.

On the other OTHER hand, I see nothing wrong with the idea that, if you're going to survive against Starbucks, your coffee needs to be as good as Starbucks'. All of which means that there's a reason I'm not an economist or political scientist.

But I still feel qualified to ask that the people who sell books know and love them, right? It doesn't seem too much to ask...

Thanks for posting...

Anonymous said...

If you truly want to promote independent booksellers, the better link would be to ebay, instead of Amazon.

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