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June 24, 2011



I stumbled on this article completely by accident. I am purely a reader, I get a large portion of my reading from local libraries or small resale shops, I refuse to buy from B&N largely because they seem to sell on a 30% mark up from my corner book store. I confess I have bought from amazon marketplace when I can't find a title locally.
This argument completely disheartens me, because if indie book shops are no longer and everyone is forced to buy a frappin kindle or e-reader (which I loath)how will writers ever break in to the market if there is such prejudices working against them?
I remember 17ish years ago, I was 11, I found a tiny little novel that was beautiful and sad. I loved it, but if we have no books to stumble on how will our children's children ever have the joy that I found in that little book?
So I say make your stand!! get mad! you are our last defense against the black tide, you are the to readers as, Osgiliath is to Minus Tirith. I want to have the joy of old books for centuries to come!

Emme B.

I've been following this thread since it started. I keep going back and forth on adding my two cents to the conversation (really there is no monetary value if someone is counting). This post keeps eating at me though. It's an invaluable commodity to have someone in your community available to help recommend books based on their knowledge of what books and authors exist as well as what a persons' specific likes and dislikes might be. I agree. We need to support those stores.

My concern, and what's eating at me -- if you aren't going to recommend books to me -- no matter how much I'd like reading them -- based on who published the book -- or any other reason based on factors external to the quality of the book -- I'm not sure I'd trust that I was getting the best possible recommendation.

I’m sure it’s a better experience visiting your bookstore than it is to utilize an online seller or a giant box store that employs people better at making coffee than they are at recommending books -- but I think integrity is an important quality for those precious few bookstores that can offer quality recommendations. For my experience, you've lost some of that integrity by refusing to work with one publisher -- no matter how valid the reason.

Beth D

You are absolutely attacking authors. You boasted about pulling ALL the books off your shelves by any author who dared publish with Amazon.

God forbid these people (you know, the ones with the talent) refuse to be used and discarded by the NY publishers, and instead team up with a publisher who knows how to sell books.

You need to support authors and not publishers. They are the ones who matter.

Joan Milne

You are effectively banning books as well as depriving your customers of the works of those writers. That's sad.

J.N. Duncan

I totally support your decision to not sell Amazon's imprint. For one, it's your store. You're under no obligation whatsoever to sell that imprint's books. You might get an irate customer who comes in for that particular book and can't get it, but I'm sure you get that regularly because you don't stock a lot of books from a lot of imprints. Space, what will sell, and all that. So really, nobody has any business bitching.

Sadly, bookstores indie/box and otherwise are, in my opinion becoming victim of not just Amazon per se, but our culture of convenience. Bezos just found a good way to tap into that cultural mentality. We want what we want and we want it now and as cheaply as possible. When you just want the next (insert author here) to read, nobody wants to travel across town to the bookstore to get it when it can show up on the doorstep the next day. You don't invest time or gas in the process. On a purely consumer level, it makes sense.

Another issue I think, is that people (a lot of them anyway), take storytelling for granted. The internet has done a lot to devalue content, and books have been pulled down right along with everything else. Amazon has certainly done it's two cents worth to help this along.

For those who argue, "why wouldn't I buy from Amazon? It's the cheapest and most convenient way to get books," you might think about the notion of supporting your local community. Investing in the well-being of those who live around you and your community in general is a good thing to be doing. I get the need to buy as cheaply as possible. Having suffered through up and down employment over the past 3 years, I get the need to minimize. If I want a book, and I can order it for $5 on Amazon, and I don't have 30-60 min and $5 for gas to go to my local bookstore to get the same book for $7.99, I'm in a position right now where I have to do that. I'm sorry, indies, but when it comes to just getting a book, economics wins.

That said, JB, how can bookstores make getting books something more than just cruising in and grabbing said title off the shelf and swiping the debit card? I've asked myself this question every time I see these discussions. I love bookstores. I find them both peaceful and stimulating. They are generally just great spaces to hang out in. How can bookstores make the extra investment more appealing? Of course, being a specialty bookshop, you have a clientele of dedicated readers, who will always shop there, because you cater to their dedication, which is something an online presence like Amazon can't really duplicate no matter what their algorithms are. But how do bookstores do this for the more general reader?

I see bookstores gradually fading away except for in big cities that have a big enough base of dedicated customers to draw upon. I hope this doesn't happen, because I believe they can be a benefit to any community. Storytelling is too valuable a cultural commodity to get sucked up into the digital black hole. I have no answers, other than I believe bookstores need to alter the perception of what they provide, which for the general public is just a place to go snag the latest best seller off the shelf. Stories have value and significance, and it's bookstores and libraries and schools which are going to keep that alive, not the Amazons of the world.

Larry Karp

Whatever success I've had as an author has been due to the care and feeding I've gotten both from my publisher, Poisoned Pen Press, and the independent bookstore owners around the country who've hosted me, passed enjoyable hours talking with me, then hand-sold my books to customers who relied on their booksellers' knowledge of both published material and their readers' tastes. Anyone who thinks if amazon does drive all bookstores out of business, that a company for whom the bottom line is measured solely in dollars would treat authors as anything other than very poorly-compensated 'product producers,' is certifiably delusional. And should amazon ever hold a publishing monopoly, readers will fare no better. They'll get what amazon wants them to have, and nothing else. And what will happen then? We'll see a resurgence of independent publishers and bookstores, with chastened readers ready to admit you get what you pay for.

Evan Hershman

Thanks to you and the staff, JB, for standing up on this. I fully support your decision. I made my own decision recently not to buy books from Amazon.com. I am definitely paying the price financially. But to me it is well worth it to maintain the community and face-to-face interaction that only independent bookstores can provide.

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