Why I'll Never Shop Online For Books Again

I love a good bookstore.

I know I’ve talked about that here before, but I really, really love a good one. Heck, I even love a bad one. If there are books in piles and a cash register somewhere that will let me exchange a swipe of my plastic card for some dusty pages held together with fragrant glue, I’ll happily spend a few hours holed up there.

How can you not love a bookstore?

Well, apparently, it’s possible. I don’t really understand a lot of this guy’s argument. I have a hard time understanding crazy-talk, after all. I’m a fairly sane person or like to think so, anyway.

This person joined the cacophony of voices this week decrying Amazon’s latest “great sale” idea: Go to an independent retailer, scan their item so Amazon can collect price information, then receive a 5% discount from the Internet Goliath for walking back out of the independent retailer and purchasing said item from Amazon.

Sounds pretty sleazy, doesn’t it? That’s what I thought, too.

I can safely say I won’t be participating in this “bargain” for a couple of reasons.

One, I like shopping in local stores.

Two, I have a soul.

Three, I haven’t knowingly given Amazon a cent of my money since April of 2010. Okay, that article is a little dated and skewed at this point, but I don’t care. I still refuse to shop there. And it boggles my mind that other people, especially people I count as friends and family AND who have heard me go on and on and on about this issue, do shop there, with regularity even.

I love bookstores.

No, I don’t think you understand.

I really love bookstores. When Borders closed this year? I wrote them a love letter, complete with shout-out to my local store in a p.s.

I can’t imagine my world without them. They fulfill every cliche in every story for me: an oasis in a desert, a calm port in the storm, a street lamp on a cold, misty night.

But I’m starting to seriously fear for those hallowed aisles of clutter and dust and the sweet-scents of aging glue and paper (which is a lot of why bookstores smell so good). Last I read, there were fewer than 2,000 independent bookstores in the continental USA*.  That’s fewer than 42 per state. That might seem like a lot of bookstores but when you think about the size of some of our states, take into consideration the major metropolitan cities (*cough*NYC*cough*) that seem to have a lot of indie bookstores and then the places you’ve lived or visited that lack any form of bookstore, you’ll realize it’s really not that many.


Already I’m reduced to trolling the internet for bookporn. Thank God there are some great tumbl blogs devoted to it already. Have you seen the many that revolve around Ryan Gosling and his “love” of various literary and cultural things? If you haven’t, you should. Look, I’ll even give you some links. They are epic.

So make me a promise, okay? Go check out the awesome blogs on tumblr that revolve around books. And love them. But get up off the couch and go to a bookstore too.

I’m not even saying you have to put away that awesome ereader Ryan Gosling obviously got you for whichever winter holiday you celebrate – or just because he thinks you’re fabulous enough to deserve one.

You don’t have to!

You can get ebooks from a lot of indie bookstores too! Did you know that!? It’s true!! My indie bookstore sells ebooks. A lot of indie bookstores sell ebooks. If you didn’t think that yours did, or you haven’t seen a sign proclaiming this glorious information, GO ASK AT THE DESK.

This is the true beauty of a bookstore. There are people there, and they are paid to help you in a variety of ways. They can answer your questions like, “Do we sell ebooks through our website? Yes we do!” They can recommend books to you and probably really like doing so. They can also point you in the direction of other fun small businesses you might enjoy like a local coffee house or great bar where you can take that great book you just bought and read it for hours on end without interruption.

And that’s really the goal, isn’t it? Reading in comfort for hours without interruption. I think my entire future will forever be interrupted by the fear that bookstores might disappear.

That’s why I don’t shop at Amazon, and why I’ve been red in the face since reading about their discount.

I’ve also tweeted about it a lot.

And maybe ranted a little via blog posts…wait a second.

*I have to be honest: I can’t remember where I read this factoid so it might not be 100% accurate. But here’s a really cool map of independent bookstores around the country. You should look and see if there’s one near you!

Photo is my own.