indie-bookstores

Image: Peter Reynolds, owner of Blue Bunny Books in Dedham, Mass. (Robin Lubbock/WBUR)

Amazon has opened its latest brick-and-mortar bookstore in Dedham, Mass. (its first on the East Coast). But Peter Reynolds, who owns an independent bookstore just up the road, isn’t too worried.

He says, “At first my heart sort of sunk a bit, but I realized quickly the response from our friends was: ‘What you have in your independent bookstore is very, very different than what Amazon is providing.’ And I think that we’re going to be OK.“

As Amazon Moves In, A Local Bookseller Hopes To Thrive With A Personal Touch

STORY TIME:

I work in a decent sized, local, indie bookstore. It’s a great job 99% of the time and a lot of our customers are pretty neat people. Any who, middle of the day this little old lady comes up. She’s lovably kooky. She effuses how much she loves the store and how she wishes she could spend more time in it but her husband is waiting in the car (OH! I BETTER BUY HIM SOME CHOCOLATE!), she piles a bunch of art supplies on the counter and then stops and tells me how my bangs are beautiful and remind her of the ocean (“Wooooosh” she says, making a wave gesture with her hand)

Ok. I think to myself. Awesomely happy, weird little old ladies are my favorite kind of customer. They’re thrilled about everything and they’re comfortably bananas. I can have a good time with this one. So we chat and it’s nice.

Then this kid, who’s been up my counter a few times to gather his school textbooks, comes up in line behind her (we’re connected to a major university in the city so we have a lot of harried students pass through). She turns around to him and, out of nowhere, demands that he put his textbooks on the counter. He’s confused but she explains that she’s going to buy his textbooks.

He goes sheetrock white. He refuses and adamantly insists that she can’t do that. It’s like, $400 worth of textbooks. She, this tiny old woman, bodily takes them out of her hands, throws them on the counter and turns to me with a intense stare and tells me to put them on her bill. The kid at this point is practically in tears. He’s confused and shocked and grateful. Then she turns to him and says “you need chocolate.” She starts grabbing handfuls of chocolates and putting them in her pile.

He keeps asking her “why are you doing this?” She responds “Do you like Harry Potter?" and throws a copy of the new Cursed Child on the pile too.

Finally she’s done and I ring her up for a crazy amount of money. She pays and asks me to please give the kid a few bags for his stuff. While I’m bagging up her merchandise the kid hugs her. We’re both telling her how amazing she is and what an awesome thing she’s done. She turns to both of us and says probably one of the most profound, unscripted things I’ve ever had someone say:

"It’s important to be kind. You can’t know all the times that you’ve hurt people in tiny, significant ways. It’s easy to be cruel without meaning to be. There’s nothing you can do about that. But you can choose to be kind. Be kind.”

The kid thanks her again and leaves. I tell her again how awesome she is. She’s staring out the door after him and says to me: “My son is a homeless meth addict. I don’t know what I did. I see that boy and I see the man my son could have been if someone had chosen to be kind to him at just the right time.”

I’ve bagged up all her stuff and at this point am super awkward and feel like I should say something but I don’t know what. Then she turns to me and says: I wish I could have bangs like that but my darn hair is just too curly.“ And leaves.

And that is the story of the best customer I’ve ever had. Be kind to somebody today.

“We all just took the bookstore at its word, because if you couldn’t trust a bookstore, what could you trust?”
-Rachel Cohn, “Dash & Lily’s Book of Dares ( Dash & Lily, #1)”.

10

So I might have lost my fangirl shit when I got to visit the ONLY romance-exclusive bookstore in the United States. 

The Ripped Bodice was a fangirl dream come true, and you bet your petticoats I was fangirling the whole time through.

I got to meet the one of the co-owners Bea, WHO WAS SUCH A SWEETIE! She didn’t even bat an eye when I was like, “Can I be a dork and get a photo?”

As evident, I had zero chill.

And ya’ll fangirls know, you KNOW I couldn’t leave without giving The Ripped Bodice literally all my money.

SO HERE’S MY HAUL, YO!

The actual “Fiction Books Imma Read” pile…

  1. The CEO Buys In by Nancy Herkness: Contemporary workplace forced proximity secretary-billionaire
  2. A Study In Seduction by Nina Rowan: Historical, mathematician heroine, hero in pursuit, OTP bet
  3. The Game and the Governess by Kate Noble: Historical, governess heroine, rich hero in disguise as poor servant, bet
  4. Roses in Moonlight by Lynn Kurland: Historical, back-in-time travel, scholar heroine, Highlander hero
  5. Destiny’s Captive by Beverly Jenkins: Historical, POC characters, enemies to lovers, alpha heroine, pirate heroine steals hero’s ship, hero in pursuit
  6. Sorcerer to the Crown by Zen Cho: Fantasy, adventure, hero freed slave, heroine magician
  7. My Reckless Valentine by Olivia Dade: Contemporary, librarian heroine, hero new boss, workplace romance
  8. A Convenient Arrangement by Maggie Marr: Contemporary, bad boy billionaire hero, opposites attract, no strings attached
  9. Pretending with The Playboy by Tracey Livesay: Badboy hero, contract dating
  10. Trade Me by Courtney Milan: Contemporary, interracial couple, billionaire hero, financial lives swap bet

(Hmm. “The bet” trope popped up a lot in that list. Didn’t notice that til now. Also I’ve already read A Study In Seduction, AND SO GOOD OMG OMG OMG!)

Okay, so what about non-book-hoard romance swag? Oh I got ya.

What’s that? A Fabio book? Can it get better? IT CAN!

But no, Fabio, no matter oh big your man-titties are, I’m not reading your Old Skool Romance. Sorry. 

But wait, what’s that necklace, you ask? Oh well let’s look closer.

A MOTHER FLIPPING FABIO NECKLACE HOMESKILLET! You know I couldn’t not get that. YOU KNOW! He’s the figurehead of our genre, after all.

Our cheesy, cheesy figurehead. 

Sigh. 

NOW LOOK AT THIS AWESOME TOTE BAG!

YOU BET YOUR KNICKERBOCKERS I SPAZZED WITH HAPPY OVER THAT THING!

As well as over the Choose Your Own Romance adventure book. Like, c’mon. COME! ON!

And last but for real not least, of course I also bought one of those cute AF woodcuts made by a local artist BECAUSE ONCE AGAIN HOW COULD I NOT?!

The Ripped Bodice, you complete me. YOU WERE MY EVERYTHING. I mean, even your receipts were pink. PINK!

(Okay so I paid 40 bucks for a necklace, SUE ME. And okay, so the pink doesn’t show up all that well on camera. DON’T SUE ME I’M BROKE!)

Either way, the fact remains that this bookstore was the bomb diggity, and to all the naysayers and book snobs out there, let me just say…

Because until you do, I don’t wanna hear shit.

Don’t Let Amazon Profit From Independents

                     

A recent informal survey showed that many bookstores around the country have changed their approaches to author talks. Some stores now charge for admission to events, allowing a customer to apply the ticket fee to the purchase of a book. More and more indies are refusing to permit customers to get books signed that weren’t purchased in the store.


The reason for such policies is obvious: It takes a staff and other resources to host in-store events, and it’s the sale of books—or the revenue from tickets—that must cover the costs. If an independent bookstore is providing events as part of its mission to build community, why should anonymous, distant Amazon or a big chain profit from all of the indie’s work?


Politics & Prose has long resisted charging admission for events or requiring customers to buy books for signings. And we have no plans to change this approach. We’re fortunate that the vast majority of people who shop at P&P and attend P&P events are deeply loyal to the store and to the idea of buying local and sustaining community-based institutions.

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Yet we’re occasionally reminded—as we were last week when a gentleman stood in line to get signed a book he had purchased on Amazon—that some customers are not aware why it matters to buy local. Yes, the book may be cheaper elsewhere. But bricks-and-mortar stores like P&P offer programs that enable customers to meet authors, receive personal advice from expert staff, take classes with others in their communities, and join public book groups.


We hope never to have to change our policy of free events or to start policing where books signed by authors at our events were purchased. In the meantime, we thank all of you who are customers and who make what may at times even be an extra effort to get books from us and other independents. We thank all of you who do so much to support your local bookstore and your community by purchasing your books at P&P, becoming a member of the store, and participating in our many programs and events.


- Brad and Lissa

electricliterature.com
So Long, Amazon? — Electric Literature
A New Service Offers One-Hour Book Delivery or Indie Shop Pick-Up
By Nicholas Politan

Huh! A new start-up is trying to give indie booksellers a boost in their battle against Amazon. NearSt lets you browse the inventory of local bookstores, then delivers your picks right to your door.  Right now, it’s only operating in London, but they’re aiming to expand. What do you think? If it came to the U.S. would you give it a try?

-Nicole  

Watch on melvillehouse.tumblr.com
6179. Once a year, The titans hold their annual "Gatsby Party" to raise money for various charities. Everyone dresses up in 1920s-inspired outfits, The decorations are all Art Deco, and spend the whole night dancing away to Electroswing music. The idea behind this annual event was actually Raven, who saw a T-shirt at her favorite Indie bookstore referencing the extravagant parties held by Jay Gatsby.

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