December 14, 2011

Who Needs a Bookstore?

Buying books at Amazon is a big, fat win-win for authors and readers alike, argues to Farhad Manjoo at Slate Magazine, because books are cheaper, there's more variety, great reviews, and authors can self-publish with Amazon.

It's a surprising stance considering that the company is not only bullying authors into publishing e-books solely through Amazon, but recently, in an ugly attempt to break the knees of mom-and-pop shops everywhere, the online giant offered a discount, through its app that specifically targeted shoppers at brick and mortar retail stores.

Oh, there's more: E-book readers are now able to download books through the websites of their local, independent bookstores, thereby offering the indies a cut of the profit-- but not if the e-reader is Amazon's Kindle.
Let me be honest: I have made many o' purchase through Amazon. I have an account, and I even have an online wishlist, but I'm beginning to suspect that Amazon is something like the White Witch of Narnia, offering  . . . well, everything, including Turkish Delight, probably. Few can resist. But what will we have to sacrifice in return?

Manjoo makes a few good points in his article, though. I do read Amazon reviews, and while I'm not keen on self-publishing at this point in my career-- that may change after I've peddled my manuscript for another ten years-- it does offer that nifty option for the entrepreneurial author. And yes, the books are cheap.

However, I would rather buy my wares from a bookseller who knows me, chats with me, understands my literary appetites, as well as those of my family, and offers fabulous spot on suggestions. Here's what else I love about a local, independent bookstore: story hour, author events, I like to hold the book in my hands and turn the pages, sit on the floor and read to my children, (sometimes other people's children) drink chai and visit with friends. Indie bookstores all over the country stay open until midnight for big book releases, offer snacks and readings, invite patrons to arrive as a beloved character. It's a party, for book's sake.

Yes, many of these events could be offered at libraries, and are. I love libraries, too, but look at the sad state of American libraries these days. It's difficult to find one that's open when I need it.

There's more: Many local bookstores offer book clubs (and discounts to participants), knitters' night, support-your-whatever night, where a portion of the proceeds go to local schools or non-profit organizations.

A bookstore is more than retail; it's a church for the literary minded. It's a community where people come together and love the word(s). For the love of all that is good and printed, I bid farewell to the Amazon beast. Well, not so much fare well as good riddance.  
Manjoo is right to say that Amazon will save us a few dollars, and I understand these are trod-upon times, but it's not our billfolds that drive us to the bookshop on the corner--  yep, I'm going there; say it with me -- it's our hearts.

December 5, 2011

Nogged Off

America's Favorite Hometown Dairy, Garelick Farms, adds good old fashioned high fructose corn syrup to its egg nog, so that every year I'm torn between choosing local or choosing organic.

It's an insult to hardworking heifers everywhere.

I sent Garelick an email and asked the company to take the HFCS out of its nog. I know many, many mamas who'd be happy to buy local. They wrote back to say that they cannot accept product ideas from consumers.

What? Whom are they trying to please if not consumers? Their pocketbooks, maybe.

I don't want to rant about a local company. Like my children, I encourage them to make good choices. Unlike my children, I'm not required to give them my love when they make poor choices.

I know it's too late for this holiday season, but here's my mini campaign: If you are a New Englander, please ask Garelick Farms to remove high fructose corn syrup from its nog-- and all products, for that matter. Here's the handy dandy link.

If there are enough requests, maybe we'll return to the holidays of yesteryear when we worried only  about the state of our thighs.