On vacation this summer, we found a really great little independent bookshop. The whole family spent a good half an hour or so browsing around, and I could have happily stayed there a lot longer. My experience of independent bookshops is that they tend to have a much more interesting selection of books than the big names, with quirky things you wouldn't find elsewhere, organised into slightly different groupings than just A-z Fiction, Poetry, etc. They also seem to be packed to the gunnels with books, so you can barely move. I would venture a guess that 5-10 of my favourite books in the past decade were found in an independent bookshop. We know that bookselling is under immense pressure, and we know that the independents have a hard time competing, and yet, we also know how valuable they are to the community, to readers, and to local authors. Which is why I feel so terrible admitting that I wrote down the names of the four or five books that I really liked, and bought them on Amazon later that day, to download to my Kindle. I would say (in a very poor defence), that if I had been going to buy the physical book, I would have done so in the shop. It seems, though, that I've stopped doing that. After all of my complaints about Amazon and the Kindle Oasis order process, I did manage to take one on vacation, and I love it. Why? Because it's light to hold, and doesn't fill my luggage up with heavy books, because I can adjust the text size to fit my declining eyesight, and at night or in sunlight I can read the text just as easily, because I can highlight words and make notes, or look up words I don't understand without wandering over to the outdated dictionary on my shelf. I WANTED to buy the books in the bookshop, but they don't sell eBooks. I'm not sure how this would work, but I would love to see a system where I can scan a book in a bookshop, and not feel guilty, because some geo-fencing technology would identify where I had scanned the book, and if I then made a purchase on Amazon, they could pay a fee to the retailer. You may argue that this is crazy, and Amazon will never do that, but I think there are good reasons for their business to do this. For one thing, it helps support community, readers, authors, and retailers. For another, I would not have bought those 5 books without the bookshop - if they go out of business, then that is five transactions Amazon will never get. It would also make me feel good about going into my local independent bookshop. That must be a good thing, right?

2 Comments