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Friday, October 19, 2012

Why You Should Shop at Your Local Bookstores!


Support Your Local Bookstores!!!!

Until recently, I had been working at my local Barnes and Noble. We just discovered that our store will be closing at the end of the year, along with another location that's less than 10 miles away. That's two Barnes and Noble stores going out of business and leaving 40 employees without jobs. That leaves us with one independent bookstore and a scattering of used bookstores left to purchase books at in the area. While I've already found another job at a Books Inc. in my area, bookstores in general are becoming scarce.

I feel like most people don't understand the repercussions bookstores face when you choose to purchase your books online just so you can save a couple dollars. And I get it. I'm a broke college student who would much rather spend $11 on a brand new hardcover than $17. But when you think about it, how much fun comes from “browsing” books on the internet? What about that feeling you get when you walk into a bookstore and see rows upon rows of amazing titles? When you shop online, there's no way to actually hold the book in your hands and flip through its pages before purchasing. There's no way to “test” books out online, you just buy them, wait a week, and hope for the best. What if you don't like it? Sure, you can return them to the site, but then you have to pay for shipping to return it and wait another 2-3 weeks to get your refund. Doesn't that sound like a hassle?

And what about the people you meet? Sure, we've all had our experiences with cranky customer service people who don't really know what they're talking about, but there are always a few employees we come across who are more than happy to share great recommendations and help you find an awesome title, perhaps an obscure book you may have overlooked before. I'm not just talking about employees either. I've met so many people in bookstores, browsing the same shelves as me, only to end up in conversation about the latest and greatest novels we've picked up. Can you do that online? I think not.

I totally understand that there are some places where bookstores are basically nonexistent, or the closest one is like an hour away. In that case, I can accept that you would purchase your books online because that just makes way more sense. But for those of us that do have a bookstore 10 minutes away, why wouldn't you want to go there? If we don't spend our time in bookstores rather than online, then the bookstore 10 minutes away might close and the closest one will now be an hour away.

Don't you love going to author signings? I know you can't do that online. If we don't support local bookstores, there will be nowhere for authors to come and sign their books and chat with fans! I've been to countless book signings at different bookstores and I don't know what I would do if they all closed because they weren't making any money. Without bookstores, authors won't be able to have book launches and fun signings with cake and swag!

I love working in a bookstore because I get to learn about new and interesting books from customers and I get to meet incredibly interesting people with diverse opinions on the titles that fill our shelves every day. I'd much rather spend $17 on a book and have it in my hands that day, then spend $11 and have to wait 4 days. I'd much rather walk into a bookstore and browse the shelves for hours, feeling my way through the pages and smelling that “new book smell.” People take their local bookstores for granted, but didn't we learn anything from the closing of all Borders ever?

I know that for some people, saving money is really important. But if you're a lover of books, then shouldn't you be a lover of bookstores? Shouldn't you want to support the places that carry your precious (said like Gollum) and eagerly supply you with your current obsession? Shouldn't we want to encourage people to splurge on the latest J.K. Rowling novel at their local Barnes and Noble or Chapters? You can still save some money and still buy your books at the local bookstore. Just buy a couple at a time rather than splurging on a whole stack. I promise, it will be worth it in the end :)

Don't let bookstores become a thing of the past. Support them in every way you can. There's our own little slice of book lover heaven, a physical place we can go where a community of people are brought together over our shared love of literature. Bookstores are the Goodreads of our local communities, a place where we can discuss books with old and new friends. Bookstores provide us with the chance to meet our favorite authors and immerse ourselves in fantastic stories. Don't choose a $5 savings over that kind of magic, it's just not worth it.

*****
As always, I'd love to hear what you guys want to talk about! 

 

29 comments:

  1. A lot of times I'll definitely buy the book (hardcover or paperback) at a signing for it, but if I'm buying a book at a bookstore it's usually paperback because I don't really pay for my own books anyway. So buying hardcovers full price with my own money leaves me with little money to get food with. But I definitely get what you're saying. I want these little Indie bookstores to stay in business forever, but I rarely buy books from them.

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    1. LOL OMG NICOLE. "I don't buy my own books anyways." Buy your books from them! What if they go out of business and then all the awesome signings you go to are no more?! SAD DAY!

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  2. I would much rather support a local, independent book store than a chain like Chapters. The last time I was in a Chapters (two days a go) they had signage EVERYWHERE announcing the great deals online, and how it was free shipping! And I'm pretty sure if I'm not happy with a Chapters online purchase, I can return it in store. So yea, for me, it makes more sense to spend $20 on two hardcovers online, then $20 for one. I now really only go in to Chapters to dig through their Bargain section (I got five books that day, for under $30!) so I still get that in-store experience and I take the time to browse other titles. But then I usually go home and order them online.

    I'm lucky to be able to afford to buy books at all, so if there's a chance I can save some money I will. Especially when places like Chapters still advertise the "Canadian" price vs. the "American" price - our dollar is around par, why am I paying so much more?

    So I get what you're saying, but for me, the savings outweigh the chance that I might have a pleasant experience.

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    1. I can understand not a big chain. I worked at Barnes and Noble and we were always pushing our memberships and how you can get free online shipping where prices are cheaper. When you think about it, how is a bookstore supposed to stay in business when they can't even beat their own online prices?

      It's sad that your bookstore doesn't give you the amazing experience that mine do though. :(

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  3. As someone who works at home with a husband who works 55-60 hours a week, it is extremely hard for me to get out often to the bookstore, so it is more convenient to shop for my books online. As well as the fact that I cannot afford to spend a lot on books. I also like to know exactly what I am buying, so if I see something in the store, I prefer to look the book up on Goodreads first, to get a little more info. When I was just a light reader I bought all my books in the store but as someone who reads so many books a year, it has just become too much financially and I have to save where I can.

    I do occasionally buy a book in the store though. I have an indie about a half hour away, but they don't always carry Young Adult books I want, since they are primarily a children's bookstore. And I do buy almost all of the books I buy my kids at a bookstore.

    If I lived near a bookstore that had signings for authors of books I read, I would definitely make the effort to go to the store more often, but we don't get anyone near me at all. :(

    But I did take my son to his first book signing last night, though it was at the library.

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    1. But I do buy all of my 'OMG I MUST READ THIS ASAP' books at the store. I make my mom go as the store opens on release day and pick me up books like TMI series as well as some of my other favorites, and bring them to me to start right away. lol

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    2. I can definitely understand how it's more convenient for some people to shop online, especially if you have kids and such. And I think it's awesome that you have a local children's bookstore! We do as well and it's amazing, except they actually have quite a few YA titles which is great.

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  4. Sorry to say this, but many of the services that physical stores offer and you wrote about in your post, can be accessed on-line as well, and sometimes more effectively too - reading recommendations via blogs and book reviews on Goodreads, online reading communities; you can also sample just about any book online; you can find a wider variety of books online that might be unavailable at the book stores. Even book events can be easily held in libraries (or I even heard of some in cafes) instead of stores. Of course, nothing can substitute a book store atmosphere (except maybe libraries again), but very often the lower price will outweigh even that consideration. This development is saddening, but understandable as well. Times change, businesses change.

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    1. As bloggers, we're a lot more aware of the resources that are out there for recommendations and reviews on books we're considering buying which is great for us. However, not everyone is aware of that. I can't tell you how many teens I had come in to my store and ask for recommendations. I know that doesn't directly affect most of us, but what about the people that it DOES affect? And as for books that are unavailable, every bookstore in my area (chain or indie) will gladly order books for you if they don't have them in stock. And libraries will only hold events if they do well, which according to mine they don't. The only places that get author events in my area are bookstores. I just don't agree that saving $5 is worth letting bookstores go out of business, I think they offer to much to the community as a whole.

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  5. This is a really great post. I do buy a lot of my books online and I have a nook so I get a lot of ebooks, but I still really enjoy going to the bookstore too. I still do purchase books from bookstores.

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    1. SHOP AT BOOKSTORES AMY!!! DO IT DO IT DO IT!!!!!

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  6. As a former independent bookstore owner, thank you. Unfortunately, as you can see, many people don't really care that brick & mortar stores are failing. I understand the economics of the situation---I'm on a fixed income---but if everyone would buy just one thing per month in 3 independent stores of any kind, they would have an impact that means something. They'd help keep those stores going and they'd be supporting their communities, not to mention helping local people keep jobs. (I include big box stores and national chains in this because they pay local taxes and are good civic neighbors in many ways.)

    There is a lot of pleasure to be gained from knowing that just a few of your monthly purchases can mean so much to others rather than just to yourself.

    I apologize if I sound strident. I don't mean to but I think we're in local business crisis mode and we will ALL regret it when our only shopping choices are online.

    Lelia Taylor

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    1. I definitely agree with you. I'd much rather see bookstores - all of the bookstores ever - stay in business than buy my books online. Yes, I've cut down on my spending habits because I'm spending more money online, but that's also a good thing! I'm saving money but I'm also supporting local businesses which is more important to me. I can understand why people want to save money by shopping online, but the savings really isn't enough for me to stop going to stores.

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  7. My local independent bookstore just closed last month and I was so sad. They are one of the only places that bring in actual authors to do events and signings. You can't get that online! For the last 10 years I've tried to buy all my books through independent bookstores even though I was a poor college student. I felt that even if I had to spend more money at least that bookstore would stay around. I didn't have a lot of money to spend but I felt it was more important to spend it at a local bookstore than to save a couple of dollars. I could even purchase ebooks through our local bookstore so I could have the best of both worlds. Now I have to drive a ways to the next closest local bookstore, but I will continue to do that so hopefully they won't go out of business.

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    1. Yes! Thank you! It's about supporting local business, not saving money! <3 My local indie sells ebooks online which is awesome, and they'll even order used or out of print books for you through Amazon or Ebay if they don't have them in the warehouse. HOW COOL IS THAT??

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    2. Speaking of ebooks, I'm not sure if this is widely known but the indie stores' deal with Google (which wasn't a good deal) has essentially ended and they're about to start up with Kobo. This will make things much easier because participating stores will be able to also sell the devices so you'll be able to download right then and there. I'll keep my beloved Nook but those new to ebooks will now be able to support those stores AND save money by buying ebooks instead of or in addition to print.

      Lelia

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  8. Great post Anna! I love bookstores but the only large one that we had close by was a Borders...which as you know closed. I actually cried a bit when I found out and during the last weeks of closing I was there like every other day. It was my favorite place to go and now it's gone. The closest B&N is like a hour away so I don't go very often, so most of my shopping is done online sadly. We do have a few local indies around and I shop there as much as possible.
    I get where you are coming from, and I promise you (and myself) that when I get a job I'll be going to actual locations again.

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  9. I love that you wrote this! It's absolutely, 100% true. Sadly, there are no local bookstores where I live, so the only way I can get a book fast without going out of my way would be online (I know. Sad face.) I used to refuse for the longest time to shop online just because I knew I wouldn't get the experience of browsing through the shelves--and why would I want to endorse that? Also, I'm broke. Desparate times lead to desparate measures.
    BUT, I have been to indie book stores (my favorite: Books of Wonder in NY that happens to be 2 hours away from where I live) and I absolutely love it there! Indie stores are, like, the best! The people at Books of Wonder even remember me! ;D
    Anyway, I'm super glad that you've pulled this into the spotlight this week. It is something that should be known because, sadly, all of those bookstores are going out of business and that makes for an unhappy Millie.

    Millie @ Millie D's Words

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  10. So sad and true but hard to do... when one is working with a limited budget. I buy most of my books at thrift stores, yard sales, or e-books online to save money. There are no indies close to me so I sadly don't frequent them...we had one about 30 min away that I loved but it closed:(

    As you said...when chains are advertising lower prices and free shipping online...it is hard to resist. Plus I just called my local BN and was told that they didn't have the book I wanted in stock so I should order online. No offer to order it for me for in store pickup.

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  11. i don't have many indies near me... i do have a barnes and noble, and a books a million near me... I still buy my books online... but sometimes when i have time I try to buy some books in a store... most likely during christmas :D If i had a indie book store near me, i would totally support them and buy books from them.
    its hard because our world has become more techno....

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  12. I always go to my local Barnes and Noble. I try to go there at least twice a month to get new books. If there's a book they don't have in store, they are always willing to order it for me. Great customer service. I get discounts too, so that's a plus! I'd be so sad if my local Barnes and Noble closes. I get almost all my books there.

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  13. Great post Anna! I'm all for supporting bookstores! I admit though I have definitely gotten lazy lately with ordering my books online ever since I began school. I live pretty close to Barnes and Noble but the YA selection there is so poor. However whenever I do get the chance to go into NY I always go out of my way to make a trip to my favorite indie bookstore and stock up on some new releases. I really wish there were more stores around me though. When I was younger there were so many more bookstores near me but they unfortunately went out of business.

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  14. The other week, I found out that one of my work sites was near one of the Vroman's location (an indie in Pasadena), so I made sure I went in and get something (and see if something my SIL wanted was there in hardcover). I've also started driving the 45min-hour to the one indie that does YA author events. Only indies we have local are used ones. So I hit BN for new books, and treasure hunt at the used and library sales. This year I've been buying a bit more in store than online. Saving some money is great, but you get what they send you. So if your cover gets torn between them getting it and it arriving at your house, you are kind of stuck with it.

    Got to keep our BN open. A city of 300,000+ people, and only the one new bookstore. The city just east of us lost their only new bookstore a few years back. Its just depressing that the section that was where the history, religion, memoir and YA is now a toy section at my BN, and those are now crammed into the other sections. That sort of forces me to get history books else where, be it online or BNs in other cities.

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  15. :) I'm happy to say I work in one of those local bookstores. Sure it's easier (particularly on gas!) to buy books online, but customers are always telling me (& my co-workers) that they gladly drive out to our store because of us. Not to say big chains aren't great, because they certainly are & heaven knows I've definitely spent more than enough at those stores, but I've always felt that local and indie store employees are far more helpful when giving recommendations. I've noticed that when browsing through the employee recs at a nearby B&N they all seem to be books on the current bestsellers lists. Not so with us and I like that. Also, we don't have member cards (apart from a teacher discount) so we aren't forcing people to sign up for things or shove free shipping down their throats.

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  16. I love being in a bookstore. I can spend hours and hours in a bookstore just looking through books. I noticed I tend to buy more books from the bookstore than online. I think it has something to do with holding it in my hands. It's as if I already own it.

    As other people mentioned, you aren't guaranteed a book in new condition through the mail. I actually had one package in which the book covers were glued to the side of the cardboard envelope. Someone had a bright idea to slather glue all over the inside of the envelope and then shoved my new book inside. Needless to say I ripped the front cover when ripping open the envelope because the cover was stuck on the envelope. The only thing I have to worry about with bookstores is that the person who bags my books just tosses them all into a bag and shoves the bag towards me. So far that hasn't happened yet.

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  17. This is an interesting article of the other side of the argument. I don't go to bookstores because I e-read 98% of the time but when I do read a physical book, I usually buy it online. And not only because of the money issue but also because its simply just much, much easier. There is no hassle of actually going someplace and searching for a book that you could possibly not even find. Especially if its a super new release or an older title. Also, its much easier to find the edition you want online then a bookstore since bookstores only carry one edition.

    The fact that so many people are losing their jobs over this just SUCKS but times ARE changing and that's not preventable what so ever. However, I still don't think that brick stores will vanish completely because even online shoppers like me enjoy the atmosphere of a book store from time to time.

    So as a reader, I could only do so much before I have to start putting myself first.

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  18. I'm lucky enough that I have a lot of book stores around me (there's probably 2 B&N's within 10 minutes of me, and 1 indie), so when I get the chance, I do stop in and take a look around. I agree with you - I love the feeling of stepping into the book store and talking about bookish things!

    However, I do admit that I use Amazon for a lot of book buying. It's a lot cheaper, and when my relatives give me birthday presents, they never know which book to get, or what book stores I like, so they send me an eAmazon gift card. Of course, it's also a lot cheaper (And I don't have a job either - I'm only a high school student :/) Usually online there's a wider selection.

    Still, I'd like to think that I do support my local bookstores, especially the indies. If they have a YA book event, I do my best to attend and buy tons of books!

    Anyways, that's my two-cents ^__^

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  19. I love going to the bookstore. I was so sad when my local Borders closed. I still have a few B&N shops near me, so I pop into them whenever I am looking for a book. I really wish that I had an Indie near me. The ones near me are not well-curated.

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  20. Though I live near a shopping centre, unfortunately most book stores here don't sell books written in English and if they do it's only a few. So I do get most of my books online. However, last month I visited Waterstones in Amsterdam and I felt like a kid in a candy store. I remembered Waterstones from when I was in England and didn't like it that we didn't have a store like that here. Unfortunately I can't go visit Waterstones whenever I want, but if we did have a store like that nearby I would definitely visit once a week or so. I love book stores!

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According to FTC guidelines I must point out that all of the books that I review on my blog were either purchased by me or were given to me by the author/publisher. All words and opinions expressed are my own and I do not receive any monetary goods for writing reviews. I will state in my review which books I have received for review and which books I have purchased/borrowed. All images and synopsis are taken from Goodreads.com unless otherwise stated.
 
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