Monday, February 28, 2011

Supporting Your Local Bookstore

Normally I try and maintain a book-buying ban. I spend gift cards, but otherwise don't buy very many books each year. I used to, but that was back when I had room for said books and when my books were not residing one place and I residing another. I feel guilty, though. I know the book world is floundering, so I really should try and buy book even once a month. There are stores closing, declaring bankruptcy, restructuring... the list goes on. I always support my favourite authors and buy new books in series, but I don't impulse buy anymore. I can go to the bookstore and give myself permission to buy a book and walk out with nothing. So, in January and February I spent my gift cards from Christmas AND spent money on books. This will not continue because we will be buried in books, but it was fun! I felt like I was helping out and doing my small part. I think I might have to at least buy one book a month, despite the space issues, just to feel like I am aiding the book world. Like, in March I will probably buy Among Others by Jo Walton and Delusions of Gender by Cordelia Fine.

Yesterday I visited an independent bookstore about 45 minutes from here and bought The Museum Called Canada: 25 Rooms of Wonder by Charlotte Gray. I was thinking the whole time I shouldn't buy anything, but it is an independent bookstore... Also, this book is regular 65 dollars and they had it for 17. So... I also went to an independent second-hand bookstore and found a personal copy of The Winter Sea by Susanna Kearsley. When I read it last year it was through the library. Now I can read it whenever I want!

I also shop at Chapters/Indigo/Coles. I know that technically this is a big chain bookstore, but it is also technically Canadian. I would hate for it to follow Borders and start shutting down locations. Canada needs a chain and it is competing with Amazon (which is available in Canada now), Barnes & Noble, Book Depository, and now all the various e-book chains that are springing up. Do I have issues with Chapters? Yep! They are not perfect and they take forever to shelf new inventory, but at least they are Canadian. Do I think they need to shape up a bit so as to compete better in the world stage? Of course I do. I know many people that refuse to shop from them. So what is happening? They are taking their money and supporting chains located in other countries. I do it, too. Before Christmas every year when I used to buy books a lot I would make a big order from Book Depository. Then, after I spent my gift cards from Christmas I would tend to shop the rest of the year from Amazon.

The more I think about it, the more I come to the conclusion that whenever possible I am going to buy books from Canadian bookstores. I do read books once in a while that are not in print in Canada, but otherwise I would much rather put up with my few issues with Chapters than have them close entirely and leave us just with outside bookstores. In the U.S. Borders will be closing stores, but they still have other options. In Canada, if you don't have an independent option you would be left with nothing. I find that possible thought scary... That's not to say it WILL happen, of course, but it could!

These are just my two cents on the book economy. What do you think?


  1. I'm afraid I've never really gotten into the whole book store thing. I tend to buy all my books at library sales, thrift stores, and used book stores. At least the first two benefit good causes (libraries and charities!).

  2. When I am rich I will buy books new all the time, instead of my broke-ass thrift store system of the present. And can I just say, Among Others will be worth the purchase. I'm writing my review of it now, and I'm afraid I'm not adequately conveying how much I liked it.

  3. I tend to buy a lot of books at Half Price Books, Amazon and I used to live near a library with great book sales. But I do support bookstores when I can.

    I am still really bummed out about Borders closing. I loved going there and I love going to Barnes & Noble too but now I don't have a choice. I think that's sad.

  4. I refuse to buy from Chapters/Indigo/Coles because of their monopoly on the book trade in Canada (b&m stores that is). My town doesn't have a book store so I almost 100% buy online when I have a list and I know what I want. I buy from to purposely give the Chapters conglomerate competition. I will admit to very occassionally buying from chapters online simply because they had the book in stock and amazon didn't but they are last on my list.

    I also support other Canadian bookstores online and b&m, mostly catering to Catholics or homeschoolers. When I visit small towns I always go to independents and browse their local history section for something that might catch my eye.

    I would love to see another chain store come into Canada and give Chapters competion! And I don't care if it's from the US as long as it makes Chapters competitive instead of having their "well we're the only book chain store around so what other choice donyou have?" attitude. Heck, last time I was in a big Chapters store, they sell so much other junk now it was hard to find the books!?

  5. What a lovely and thoughtful post, Kailana. For a long time I didn't buy at Chapters because I worked in independent bookstores all my life, until Chapters came to town. Now here in Ottawa, we have 5 of the stores in the city. And so few independents left. But then, like you, I got thinking: if I spend my money through a company like Amazon that isn't Canadian, am I doing my best to keep a Canadian bookstore open in Canada? So I decided to start shopping at Chapters. Its' fun! - though, I do still go to my independents whenever I can. I also have discovered the joys of Amazon shopping, books at my fingertips, whenever I want. Hard to resist this!

    Often Chapters doesn't have the book I want, and like you say, takes forever to restock the shelves. I've gone in and out with nothing in my hands. I've also gone in and come out with books for everyone in my family (and had to restrain myself). I think what I'm trying to say is, I really think we have to support our local stores, no matter what country they are in. Especially when it comes to books, which are kind of endangered anyway as an independent-selling option. If it came to Chapters or a non-Canadian bookstore, I'd pick Chapters every time.

  6. Bookstores overwhelm me. I don't usually go unless I have a title in mind because the choices are so many. The library and book blogs with links to a source are my usual book outlets.

  7. When I was considering changing my book buying habits, I was originally only going to by from independent bookstores. But after what happened to Borders, I think chains can use help too -- if only to keep them from losing to Amazon. Indies are still my first choice, but chain stores will do too.

  8. *Amanda: I live in a small town, so while do support all three of those places, I am limited in when I can do that.

    *Jenny: Yeah, most of my 'new' purchases are with gift cards. After that I allow myself a treat once in a while, but otherwise it is thrift stores.

    *Iliana: I have never used Half Price Books before...

    *Nicola: Yes, I can see your point. I usually do the same thing, but I still would hate not to have a bookstore around. If they went under I don't know if anything would come in to replace them...

    *Susan: I do support independent bookstores when I can. :)

    *jen: I know! If I go in to browse I rarely buy anything because there are so many options. lol

    *Kim: Yes, that's my thought. I don't really want Amazon to take over the world...


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