Thursday, December 13, 2012

The Bookstore

I know that this blog is about hiking, not books, but every now and then, I decide to stray off topic - writers prerogative, I guess.  Today is one of those days.

The other day, I made an impulse buy while browsing a little downtown bookstore on my lunch hour.  I was looking for a Christmas gift, and found a great cookbook in the Fountain Bookstore.  It was $35, and I knew it might be a little less on-line, but it was right there in front of me, and I like supporting local businesses.  The lady even gift wrapped it for me.  I am a terrible wrapper.  Sometimes for Team in Training, we do fundraisers where we wrap purchases at stores.  I joke that the stores donate to my fundraising with the agreement that I stay away from them.

A few days later, I decided to get the same book as a gift for someone else, and found that it was $22, plus shipping, on Amazon.  On a whim, I went back to the bookstore the next day and asked if they could cut a deal, take a few bucks off.  The lady seemed a little frustrated.  She told me that she simply could not, that she was barely making it (she was the owner).  I told her that the same book was $13 less on Amazon.  She said "I hear that every day.  You have to decide what to do."  She told me how frustrating it is when people come in, browse the books to see what they like, and then order it on line.  After thinking for a few minutes, I bought the book, plus another book for myself about odd animal friendships.

It's not that I want to hand someone $13 more of my hard earned money.  But I think it is sad to contemplate a world without little local bookstores, and that is very possible.  First it was the big bookstores that were putting them out of business, then it was the big on-line eBusiness organizations that started putting the big bookstores, like Borders, out of business.  It's clear that without customers, places like the Fountain Bookstore are endangered.  And it is clear that customers will have to pay more for merchandise at small bookstores, which just don't have the volume to compete on price.

So, given the choice, this time I choose to spend more for the exact same product, but keep some money in the local economy.  What would you have done?


  1. I would have bought the book too. There is something to be said for a small bookstore. You get great service and I think worth the little bit more you have to pay.
    I wouldn't go there and by books as a rule but once in a while it is nice to do. I really feel for the small businesses - it must be so very hard to make any money.

  2. Small businesses, especially if they sell a product that one can get elsewhere from companies with more volume, must have a very hard time. Like you would not buy books everyday, but I am glad I made that choice on that day.