When it comes to books, why aren’t we buying locally?

“Several studies have shown that when you buy from an independent, locally owned business, rather than a nationally owned businesses, significantly more of your money is used to make purchases from other local businesses, service providers and farms — continuing to strengthen the economic base of the community.” – Sustainable Connections

An online friend of mine is being forced to close her bookstore. One of the unfortunate aspects of this is the disappearance of a venue for local authors.

e-readerlinkBookstores, of course, are struggling as e-books grab a larger share of the readership. Some stores have tried to counter this by installing Espresso Book Machines that will print any POD book within a few minutes. For the store, this isn’t cheap. Other stores are teaming up with providers to offer e-books.

Several years ago, the New Yorker Magazine published a cartoon showing a downtown merchant taking the delivery of books from Amazon even though there was a bookstore right next door.

Why has it come to this? Why has it become easier to order from Amazon and wait a day or two for the book to arrive rather than driving 15 minutes to the nearest store?

Some people don’t have time to drive to the bookstore, and they argue that it takes less time to order an Amazon book that will arrive on their doorstep than it does to drive. Perhaps so. Other readers say that Amazon offers bigger discounts and–when the orders are large enough–free shipping.

Perhaps we’ve become so isolated from our friends, neighbors and local business people that we see no reason to support them by buying local. Are we so in love with celebrity authors that every book we buy has to be a mega-bestseller rather than a lesser-known book written by somebody who

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lives near us who’s placed that book on consignment at the bookstore down town?

Seriously, is Amazon really cheaper? The book itself might be, especially in those states where Amazon isn’t paying sales taxes. Buying local supports local schools, public works, related businesses, and provides jobs. It helps the economy. Buying from Amazon, hurts the local economy because it gives nothing back to it.

Newspapers have long known the proverb: Nearest, dearest. That is, people tend to care about local news, especially when if impacts them in some way. I wish we were applying this proverb to local businesses and local authors, giving them our support before helping Amazon and faraway authors first.

We can use the IndieBound store finder to find bookstores near us. Maybe we’ll be driving past one on the way to see a movie, buy groceries or stop at the hardware store. Why not stop for a few minutes and see what they have to offer?


SOF2014lowresMalcolm R. Campbell is the author of the mystery/comedy “Jock Stewart and the Missing Sea of Fire.” In Commerce Georgia, you’ll find my paperback books at the Bookstand of Northeast Georgia.

Georgia Bookstores Selling E-Readers

A Cappella Books Atlanta, GA
A Novel Experience Zebulon, GA
Avid Bookshop Athens, GA
Bound to Be Read Books Atlanta, GA
Charis Books and More Atlanta, GA
Eagle Eye Bookshop Decatur, GA
Horton’s Books & Gifts Carrollton, GA
Read It Again Books Suwanee, GA
The Bookshelf, LLC Thomasville, GA

2 thoughts on “When it comes to books, why aren’t we buying locally?

  1. Wonderful post, Malcolm. I think we’re all just so disconnected from each other, isolated, as you said. We don’t see our community as a community, and it’s sort of a self-fulfilling prophesy. We don’t act as if it’s a community so it ceases being one.

    1. It’s hard to keep community spirit going, especially in large metro areas where those who work at a business might live miles away in dozens of towns. Thanks for stopping by.

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