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January 12, 2012



Don Munsil is spot on. But such common sense will not be impressive to buggy whip and whale oil shops, er, small independent book shops.

Let's face it: the cute book shop like in "You've Got Mail" is long gone. Small book shops provide nothing for the extra $ they charge. So if I can get that book from Amazon for less why wouldn't I?

Some will still go to book shops as Carl notes (and good for them) but it is clear the marketplace does not feel the need to rent movies at Blockbuster (hello Redbox and Netflix) or frequent book shops to get reading material.

Don Munsil

I'd just point out that according to your web site, you carry Max Allan Collins's book Chicago Confidential, which is also published by Amazon. You charge $14.95, or list price for it, and Amazon charges $8.97, or 40% off. The Kindle price is $4.99! How is this different?

One would think (and I am not a bookseller, so forgive me if I'm out of my depth) that the Nancy Pearl books will sell better because they'll be associated with Nancy Pearl, a well-known local book maven.

All of this is JMHO, obviously. I have no stake in this other than as a book lover and mystery fan. I hope that somehow we can find an equilibrium where brick & mortar book shops can survive, and I do buy books in bookshops when I'm in them. But if I was in a bookshop looking for something, and they told me "we don't carry that because Amazon publishes it" I'd find that astonishing.

Don Munsil

I really don't understand the point you're making. Amazon sells *every* book for about what you can buy it for. So by your logic you shouldn't sell *any* book because you can't compete on price with Amazon.

But here's the thing: some number of people do like going to bookstores, and will pay a higher price for books in order to get the expertise of the staff, the ambience, the ability to browse, etc.

So if one of those people actually wants one of the books that Amazon publishes, and you don't have it, you've lost a sale. You could have sold it to them for full price ($14.95), thus making a profit, just like all the other books in your store, but by taking this stand you're limiting your customers selection.

To me, that seems like cutting off your nose to spite your face. Or in this case, losing sales just to spite Amazon.

I understand that Amazon is really hurting independent bookshops, and I could understand not stocking their books because you don't want to send any money to your competition, but to be honest, Amazon isn't going away, and your existence is dependent on your ability to provide the things that Amazon doesn't have: readings, ambience, personal service, and a hand-curated selection of great books instead of a massive virtual barnload of every book in existence.

So as you say, unless Amazon decides to publish a book that you would like to carry, this is all moot. But if they decide to bring a formerly out-of-print mystery back into print, it seems to me that it's in your interest to stock it. And you should price it the way you do every one of your other books.

Alexandra MacKenzie

I was also saddened to hear that she's made a deal with the Devil -- and that's what it is, as far as I'm concerned.

I don't buy from amazon. I get all of my books from independents. I hope I can continue to do so.

-Alex MacKenzie

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