Authors Urge Customers and Colleagues not to Boycott NC Bookstores

From the ABA: When Sherman Alexie announced that he was cancelling an appearance at Malaprop’s Bookstore/Café in Asheville, many North Carolina booksellers expressed fear that an author boycott would have a chilling effect on free speech as well as inflict economic damage on booksellers who support LGBTQ rights. To address this fear, the American Booksellers Association has joined several groups in issuing a statement supporting free speech and urging authors and illustrators and their publishers not to boycott bookstores.

The following authors may evaluate attending conferences and festivals in North Carolina, but will still participate with libraries and bookstores;

openletter

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

Click on graphic to learn mor3e
Click on graphic to learn more

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?

Malcolm

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

Georgia
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

If I Owned a Bookstore

In his novel “If On a Winter’s Night a Traveler,” Italo Calvino divides a book store into some amusing sections:

    Books You Haven’t Read

    Books That If You Had More Than One Life You Would Certainly Also Read But Unfortunately Your Days Are Numbered

    Books You Mean To Read But There Are Others You Must Read First

    Books Too Expensive Now And You’ll Wait Till They’re Remaindered

    Books That Everybody’s Read So It’s As If You Had Read Them, Too

If I owned a bookstore I would probably already be broke and/or insane, but assuming I wasn’t, I would look to Calvino (figuratively, since he’s dead) for guidance in arranging my store.

Near the front of the store, there would be: Books Most People are Too Embarrassed to Pick Up. In-store video would display people sneaking up to this section and making sure they’re alone before hurriedly shuffling through the titles and centerfolds.

In the center of the store, I’m thinking of a section enclosed in barbed wire (to keep the kids out) called Books That Know Where You Live and Will Come to Your House if You Don’t Buy Them. I think a lot of people will look at these books, put them down, and then go home and see what happens. Once something does happen, I’ll start raising prices because people will have to buy the books then.

To prove that my store had a heart of gold, I would have sections called Books Your Friends Keep Borrowing and Never Give Back (with a bulletin board for posting names of your forgetful friends), Books You Need to Keep the FEDs From Hassling You (obviously, a section for those who think we have too much government already), and Books That Are, Frankly, Pretty Damn Stupid (these will sell as beach reads).

There would be smaller sections with tasteful signs like:

PURE SMUT

IMPURE THOUGHTS

DISEASES YOU DON’T WANT YOUR SPOUSE TO KNOW ABOUT

FAKE EMPOWERMENT SECRETS

SELF-HELP FOR THE ENTITLEMENT GENERATION

As for ambiance, it needs to be threatening. People like danger. They want to be able to say, “I went to BAD ASS books and got out without spending more than $250.” A biker-bar motif might work with complimentary booze for anyone who can prove they’re not already drunk.

Even so, I’d probably need a section of my store called Books You Would Buy if You Weren’t Too Hammered to Stand Up Straight. (The shelves in this section would be low to the floor so you could see the titles while crawling.)

Needless to say, we’d require folks to check their guns at the front door.

Garden of Heaven – A new novel with action and vision quests in Glacier National Park.

A sweeping mythic novel of magic and quantum entanglements that fractures time and tangles the today and yesterday of a family’s lies, a lover’s secrets, a seeker’s journey, and reality itself.

E-book only $5.99 at OmniLit

A beautiful bookstore in Dubuque

I love locally owned independent bookstores. They’re not only great for a city’s economy–as websites like IndieBound will tell you–they are also a reflection of the local culture, people, reading habits and thought.

River Lights Bookstore Photo
When I reached handwritten postcard number 100 in the stack I’m sending out to bookstores telling them about “The Sun Singer,” I was curious about the store getting the postcard. It’s River Lights Bookstore, 2nd Edition on Main Street in Dubuque, Iowa. They have a website and a Facebook page, so it was easy to learn more about the store.

They also have something else that chain stores can’t match: a wonderful historic building. The “Second Edition” in the store’s name comes from the fact that when the original store closed, some of the folks involved created a new store down town.

On June 1st, 2007, the new River Lights Bookstore opened in a beautifully renovated historic downtown building at 1098 Main Street. The wooden floors and tin ceilings of this 1870’s building offer an inviting atmosphere in which to browse or connect with fellow booklovers.

River Lights Bookstore photo
As the former chairman of my town’s Historic Preservation Commission (HPC), I was happy to see the “adaptive reuse” of the old building. I wish the store would include a note on its site saying what the building originally housed. By the look of it, it could have been a small manufacturing operation. According to Dubuque’s website, the city has an HPC that oversees the historic districts and historic properties. Doing this is also good for the local economy; and, of course, it strengthens a community’s sense of its own past history and architecture.

River Lights looks like what a bookstore ought to look like: a vibrant operation with excited book people in the perfect setting. If I lived in Dubuque–a three-hour drive from Batavia, the small town where my father was born–I would be shopping at this store every week.

I have no idea how many weeks it will take my postcard to travel from northeast Georgia to 1098 Main Street in Dubuque. Probably several weeks. Chances are, the card will be swept into a stack of Baker & Taylor, Ingram and other catalogues where it might sit for another several weeks. Somebody might actually see it, pause, and think, “hmmm.”

“Hmmm” is fine with me, assuming they can read my handwriting which, suffice it to say, was getting a bit sloppy when I reached card #100. Otherwise, I’m glad I looked up the store where the card is headed. For a preservation-minded writer, the website is a real treat, and imagining what it would be like to shop or attend book club meetings in River Lights 2/e is wonderful to imagine.

Each copy sold benefits Glacier National Park!