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September 24, 2010

Indie Bookstores: A SAFE HAVEN for book lovers

Posted by Dana

In today's guest post, Jamie Layton, Regular Contributor and Manager of Duck's Cottage Coffeeshop & Bookstore, talks about an experience she had at her store recently.  As a former independent bookstore owner myself - I totally get where she's coming from.  If you love your local independent and appreciate the hard work and effort that goes into it, and rely on the knowledge of the owners and employees and love the cozy feel of the place... you have to buy there. Not just browse.  Otherwise what is an incredible "haven" for the book lovers in your community won't last.  It's happening all over the country and I think sometimes as shoppers we take these kinds of places for granted and then mourn when they are gone.

Safe-Haven-Sparks-Nicholas-9780446547598.jpgThis really happened to me this week: I was straightening the shelves and observed two women walking around my (very small) store. They were scanning the displays and discussing a title they were obviously looking for. One woman was saying "It's Safe Harbour... Safe At Last... I just know that it has Safe in the title." Hmmmm, I thought. I bet I know exactly what they're searching for. I popped around the corner and said "Are you looking for this?" And held up a copy of SAFE HAVEN, the new title from Nicholas Sparks. "Yes!" They exclaimed and took the book from my hands. As I walked away, they were looking at the back and talking about reading it and I was happy to have satisfied another customer when I heard "Yeah, I'm gonna buy it on BOB (big online bookstore)."

Now this situation- and it happens often- baffles me. Here's a customer who apparently was looking for a book they were very excited to read. I put that book right into their hands. They could have walked out the door and headed to the beach to crack it open within the hour. But instead they're going to buy it on BOB. A huge faceless corporation that doesn't know and love books and doesn't enhance the community just by being there.  And not only that - is the couple of bucks you might save (and I say might because you either pay for shipping or have to buy additional items you didn't really need) worth not only the five+ day wait but the possible destruction of a place you are proud to have in your community?

Most people say they LOOOVE independent bookstores... so why are so many still chained to the chains?

RGG readers- please, help me try to understand this: when you find the book you want in an Indie store but choose to buy it online, what motivates your decision? Is it purely monetary? Do you prefer delayed gratification? Or have you just not thought about the consequences for your neighbors and friends? Comments- please!

-- Jamie Layton, Regular Contributor and Manager of Duck's Cottage Coffeeshop & Bookstore