I've always been a fan of Kurt Vonnegut Jr,; just like fine wine, the man just gets better with age. My grandpa Skip forwarded this article on to me.. though I'm a member of CommonDreams.org, I'd missed it. It's excerpted from A Man Without A Country: A Memoir Of Life In George W Bush’s America. BTW, in case anyone ever looks at the link, please notice I DIDN'T use amazon's link of the book. "WHY" you ask?
- Because I worked for this bookstore (Book Passage) and even though much of the bureaucracy I had to put up with in working there irritated the hell out of me, it's an INDEPENDENT BOOKSTORE, and many of the EXPERIENCED staff there KNOW their shit. They can actually HELP you. Of course, the younger staff has traditionally had a much higher turnover rate, so if you walk in to BP, look for the oldest employees you can find. Chances are, they've been there for at least 3-5 years, some as long as 10-15 years. The turnover rate has been due to management issues for the most part, as far as I've seen.
- Amazon gets enough business.. they don't need to get it ALL. I don't know about you, but I'll trade selection for service any day. That's not to say Amazon has bad service, it's just that buying something as personal as a book (and many don't feel this way, but I do) should be a visceral, hands on experience. I say "personal" because a book is something you're going to spend some time with, get to know, become intimate with. It's kind of like buying a bicycle or a piece of clothing... it's something you need to hold, touch, feel and grok before you buy it... I dunno.. maybe I'm old fashioned sometimes. That's not to say that I haven't bought things from Amazon and online in general. Online shopping is my preference for the most part. If there's a book that I already KNOW for 100% certain that I want, I've been known to get it at Amazon from time to time. Just don't forget the INDEPENDENTS!
- Independents are the reason that many of the great books that have been published are there in the first place! Independent bookstores give authors a chance when big publishers often won't. They are willing to take chances on people and invest in their community. They have readings, author events, community events. True independent bookstores also keep their MONEY in the community, which is not something that can't be said of places like Amazon, Borders or Barnes & Noble. Their money goes back to a corporate HQ somewhere... straight out of your community. Oh sure, they pay taxes like anyone else, but other than that, the money is gone. Sure, they create jobs as well, probably more than an independent could (though there are some notable exceptions e.g Powell's in Portland, OR), but you have to look at the pay, benefits, working conditions, employee satisfaction, and turnover rate as well.
Look, I got way off subject here, but I have an inkling that KVJ would agree with me here: support you local independent bookstore, and if they've all been driven off, try the library! Remember those? The LIBRARY? BIBLIOTHÈQUE? BIBLIOTECA? BIBLIOTHEK? Don't feel bad.. I haven't been into a library in... well, actually I can't remember the last time I was in the library. Probably when I was in college... so... like... 8 years at least... sheesh! If you want to be super ultra cool in my book, ride your BICYCLE to the library... no fossil fuels, and virtually no consumption required.. though it might start making some people think you were a COMMUNIST... what with all the NON-CONSUMPTION and SHARING of ideas (smirk)
Read the article, it's awesome.