Tuesday, 2 February 2010

The struggling independents. . .

If you ever visit Chicago, a trip to the Seminary Co-op Bookstore near the University of Chicago is a must. You can seriously and deliriously get lost in its labyrinth-like underground corridors of books. (You can see some photos at this blog post). They also have a terrific website with its Front Table feature that replicates a physical display of new books and staff picks (you click on the thumbnail of the book and you can read more about it) and they are always posting interesting staff reviews and interviews. And in this day and age when so many university bookstores have reduced their trade sections in favour of installing cell-phone outlets and expanding their t-shirt lines, I use their website as a major source of information on new books published by university presses. In short it's everything an independent bookstore should be - a browsing paradise for its local community with knowledgeable staff , and savvy enough to reach out to booklovers on the internet (it's been years since I've visited - I used to go as a bookseller when Book Expo America was held in the city).

But like all independents they are feeling the financial pinch in the wake of competition from amazon (whose latest hijinks in removing Macmillan books from their site over a battle with e-book pricing has made me boycott them forever - I don't care that they later changed their mind), and now threats from google. Jeff Waxman a bookseller at the Seminary Co-op, posts a thoughtful piece at the Three Percent blog - essential reading for all of us who love the culture of independent bookstores. Read it here. And buy locally and support your independents!

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I loved what Jeff Waxman wrote - that spending money is a political act. So many people are content to get everything for the cheapest they can, without thinking of the consequences of that choice. I rarely buy from amazon now - I prefer to shop in second hand book shops or charity shops. If we're not careful, we'll have no choice left at all soon, and then won't everyone be complaining!