Wednesday, April 05, 2006

Independent Stores

Yesterday, was ballet day and shopping day. Our weekly trip into the city is punctuated by many short, very inefficient stops. Many years back, I made a commitment to shop at as many independent stores as possible. I couldn't stand the Wal-Martization of the country and refused to be a part of it. I want something other than disposable toys for my children, mass produced (poisoned and genetically engineered) vegetables and meat, and products produced by the ridiculously inhuman cheap labor in China. I want quality, service, and choice. I decided to choose fewer quality items. What this means in reality is that we make many more stops and have to wait patiently while books or other special orders arrive. What we get in return is a personal relationship with people who recognize me and my children, who are getting to know our tastes, and who are eager to help.

I believe, especially, in independent book stores. We have two old and thriving stores in Mississippi(probably because of our rich southern writing tradition). We visited Lemuria yesterday. They have a wonderful selection of Southern writers and a tremendous children's book store. The staff reads and can discuss the books, they are helpful and are current with new publications. I love that store! Here is the frustration. I had a few books that I wanted to order for next year's school. The list price for the books was $32.95 each. Expensive to begin with, but these books were not in their warehouse so there would be a ridiculous upcharge of $30. I can get these books at Amazon, etc. for the list price. I am dedicated but not stupid. Now, I get to spend time online searching independents and family owned bookstores to find the books when what I wanted was to hand my money to a person. The competition in the book business is huge, but I don't understand why the huge companies can get the book to sell at list or less and the small independents are forced to market at twice list.

Frustrated, but standing firm in my dedication to independence in the book market.


Natalie said...

I might have a solution for your book search. Try Scott is a friend of ours and lost his independent bookstore to Katrina (nothing but a slab left and they didn't find a single book in the surrounding wreckage). Anywho, his online store is set up through Book Sense, an independent store association that has an online inventory of any book currently in print.

Hope that helps!

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