Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Don't Support Your Local Bookseller? [You're The Expert]

I was perusing some of my usual web sections this morning and stumbled upon an article at Slate called "Don't Support Your Local Bookseller: Buying books at Amazon is better for authors, better for the economy, and better for you by Farhad Manjoo."  I thought for sure the dude who wrote it was being sardonic.

Much to my surprise, after reading a few paragraphs into the article, I found that he was dead serious.  And since this topic of Amazon vs. Indie Booksellers is one I struggle with, I thought I'd share this article with you and see what you think.

The author of the article starts by admitting that Amazon is douchey.  My word, not his.  Then he goes on to address some issues that I had never considered.  And most issues that I could write an entire post about on their own.  Remember, these are his points, not mine:

  1. Indie bookstores recommend books their employees like, not ones that you might like based on your purchase and reading history.
  2. Indie booksellers do not promote a local product, they promote a product from one of the major publishers in Manhattan.  They are no more local than your local superstore.  
  3. Indie booksellers run on inefficient business models, and "benefit at the expense of someone else in the economy."  That money you save by purchasing your book at Amazon could go to a truly local endeavor like the theatre company, museum, artist, or farmers market.
  4. Indie booksellers pricing prevents people from buying more books.  After all there is a finite amount of disposable income, so if people pay double at an Indie, they will only consume one book instead of the potential two for the same money.  And isn't consumption of more literature the point of the whole industry?
  5. Amazon's Kindle users buy e-books at twice the rate that they used to buy print books.  But they keep buying print books too.  
So here's where I am on the topics:
  1. I've found that Indie booksellers are just as adept at recommending books to me as Amazon's recommendation algorithm.  Being a blogger, I have to believe that getting a recommendation from a human is better than from a computer.  And even if I wasn't a blogger, I'd think the same thing.  Humans have reasons they like books, not merely genre similarities.  I don't know how many times Amazon has tried to get me to buy The House of Night books and I hate them.
  2. Food for thought.  While they push the local authors, do they really benefit the local authors any more than Amazon does?  I'd really like to see numbers on how many books authors sell in their native markets.  That might have some clout in this argument.  Sure it's a local job, but so is the job at the local Amazon warehouse that's thirty miles from here.
  3. That's part of the reason I buy at Amazon.  Money I save buying books from Amazon does go into local arts and entertainment ventures.,. one of which is Changing Hands, where I purchase any books I want to get signed, even when I know they're going to cost me more because a book signing is entertainment, and I'm willing to pay a premium to support the store and the author at an event.  
  4. With the amount of literature that I consume, this is a concern of mine.  I get a fair amount of books from publishers, but I BUY BOOKS.  Just ask Monster.  He'll vouch.  And I can purchase more if I buy them from Amazon.  But I still go to Changing Hands at least once a month to support them, because I think that a local literary community is important.  See what I mean about struggling with this debate?
  5. Does not apply to this girl.  I'm not an e-reader.
Now it's time for you to tell me what you think.  Sock it to me, baby...

For those of you not familiar with You're The Expert here at I Heart Monster, it's a type of post where we share some information with you, then ask you what you think about that information.  We encourage you to leave your opinion or answers in the comments section, and even write your own post as an answer if you are so inclined.  See, we're all different, and we all have different experiences, and that's part of what makes the blogosphere such a fun place - we're all experts about what we think and how we feel and our particular view on the world.  This is just a forum for you to share those with the rest of us.  A safe place where your opinion is respected.  Attacking or hostile comments will be removed.  If you do write a post, we'd love it if you share the link with us.