Friday, Oct. 23, 2009

Supporting Your Local Bookstore

Because the money stays here ...

By Ken Brosky
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Let's face it: Wal-Mart isn't going anywhere. Neither is Amazon.com, and while there are differences between the two, they basically offer the same system: undercut competitors by offering ridiculously low prices. Wal-Mart's good at doing this by outsourcing jobs to factories in dirt-poor countries. Amazon.com gets their deals by demanding a hefty discount for any book publisher who wants to offer their book through the site.

So what happens when you buy a book on Amazon.com or at Wal-Mart? The money leaves your neighborhood and goes somewhere else entirely. The book publisher typically absorbs the cost by cutting editing labor and adding a few more Paris Hilton books to help regain profits lost as a result of the cheap deals made with Wal-Mart and Amazon.com.

But what happens when you buy a book from Boswell Books, or Next Chapter? Most of that money stays in the neighborhood. It's locally owned, it goes to employees and an owner who keeps the money right here. This is the basic idea behind the whole "Buy Local!" which has become pretty popular lately if you haven't noticed.

Now, let's be serious: sometimes, getting a book on the cheap on Amazon.com is just the only way you can get your hands on what you want. And that's okay. It happens. But the problem comes into play when Wal-Mart and other big retailers decide, "Hey, we're not going to sell this book unless you get rid of X, Y and Z. It's unacceptable and it runs contrary to our family-friendly policy." Or, worse: "We're not selling this book because it's not profitable." It's happened before, it's going to continue happening. What you end up with is a book selection that basically carries the newest Dan Brown and a couple vampire books.

Is that what you, as a fiction reader/writer, want? I hope not. Some of the best fiction being written right now is coming from independent publishers and writers whose work will never be found in Wal-Mart.

Here are some ways to support your local bookstore to ensure we as consumers always have the best selection available:

1. Buy a book a month from your local bookstore.

2. Check out this list of independent publishers and find something you like. All of the big New York publishers are owned by foreign companies, which means even if you shop at a local bookstore, a portion of that money is going to go out of the country. At least this way, you can keep your money from leaving the U.S.

3. Check out the list of events at Boswell Books or Next Chapter Bookshop or Broad Vocabulary. Not only are the readings a blast, you can buy a copy of the author's book and meet him/her as well after the reading.

4. Buy your favorite magazines at your local bookstore. It's the same price, the same selection, but I guarantee you your local bookstore needs the extra dimes more than Pick 'N Save.

5. Local bookstores are also a great place to find books written by local authors. Authors whose books will never see the light of day in a Wal-Mart or Target. Definitely not K-Mart. And I have no clue why Blockbuster Video is selling books now.

Cheers,

Ken Brosky

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