Thursday, March 24, 2011

Save our Bookstores

In February, it was disheartening to hear that Borders is closing 200 of its stores nationwide. Then last week, Borders announced it is closing 28 more stores with an updated Chapter 11 store closure list. The two Borders stores near where I live are shutting down. =( 

It's a rough time for book sellers. Here are a few things I do to try to keep book sellers in business:

1. Buy books as gifts- Last Christmas, about 80% of the gifts I got for family, friends, and white elephant recipients were books. Before going shopping, I'd even ask  the people I was shopping for what they wanted from the bookstore. And of course, books make great gifts for other occasions, such as birthdays, Mother's Day, Father's Day, Valentine's Day, and even April Fool's Day-your bookstore 's humor section can be a goldmine for April Fool prezzies.

2. Promote reading in the community- I write for a city newspaper and sometimes do profiles on local authors and cover book talks. (And oh, there's this blog too.) Reading to the elderly, reading to children, or teaching someone how to read through a community literacy program are also ways to share the pleasure of reading.  

3. Don't be a bookstore mooch- If I spend significant time poring over a book at a bookstore, I would end up buying the book 95% of the time. Bookstores aren't libraries, though big chain stores like Borders and Barnes & Noble are super generous about letting customers lounge and browse through their goods, even allowing store patrons to take stuff with them when they have their scones and iced coffee at the in-house cafe. But  remember book sellers don't make a profit until you actually pay for a book. And being that bookstore chains are for-profit businesses, it just ain't right to put a book back on the shelf after the spine is all bent up with coffee splattered on the cover page. The 5% of the time I don't buy a book I really like is usually when it's the only book left and it's been totally roughed up....or if there are some questionable stains or odors on the book, and I can't be sure where it has been....

....This reminds me of an old Seinfeld  episode called "The Bookstore." George takes an expensive book into a bookstore's bathroom (ewwww) and Jerry catches his Uncle Leo shoplifting books (double ewwww). The episode is posted right here.


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