Wednesday, June 08, 2011

Helping Bookstores Helps You

The Andrea Brown Literary Agency is launching a Save Bookstores event. The idea is for people to surge into bookstores on Saturday, June 25th, and buy a book--or four, as they put it.

Well, guess what? We're having a wedding in the Gauthier family on Saturday, June 25th, so, once again, I'm not available. (Though I'm not complaining, since we're talking a wedding and not a funeral.) Perhaps June 25th is not convenient for you, either? Not to worry. It's going to take more than buying one book on one day to save bookstores, anyway. Fortunately for you, you can help save bookstores and save yourself some money while you're at it.

Many bookstores are hurting, in part, because it is so very, very easy for us to order books over the Internet. A lot of us don't have a bookstore in our neighborhood. And how often do we go into bookstores and they don't have the book we're looking for because what bookstore can have absolutely every book available on its shelves all the time? Then there is the little factor of the discount that one particular on-line bookseller offers. You can understand why shoppers have moved to the Internet.

Here's the thing, though--Discounts aren't offered on mass market paperbacks and the inexpensive paperbacks I buy for my niece. Over the last year or so, I've sometimes paid twelve or thirteen dollars for a book with a cover price of $6.99 or $7.99. I started thinking, There's got to be a better--meaning cheaper--way for me to do this.

Sure enough, there is. Bookstores, the real ones like you see in movies and on TV, will order books for customers. And if they do, and you pick the book up in the store so they don't have to ship it to you, you don't get charged shipping. The shipping bringing the book into the store is part of the bookstore's normal overhead.

Okay, you might be thinking. You save money, bookstore makes money. But isn't it a pain in the neck to have to call and order a book? The bookstore I use lets me search and order on-line, giving me the option of picking up the book in the store, thus avoiding paying that shipping fee I was talking about earlier. I either get a call or an e-mail letting me know the book is in.

Okay, you might be thinking. That's fine for you, Gail. You have a bookstore nearby. Actually, I don't. However, an elderly family member does. She's within walking distance of quite a nice one--the one I've been ordering from lately. Yes, I am up seeing her at least once, usually twice, a week so it's convenient for me. But look around. You may be able to find a bookstore in the vicinity of some place you frequent, if only once a month or so. Plan your orders for times when you know you're going to be in town.

Seriously, you bought books before there was an Internet, didn't you?

Last week I had someone with me and had to drive to the bookstore. Even with the parking fee and sales tax, I still saved money on the book I had ordered. Plus I browsed and found another book for my niece while I was there. I saved some more shipping, and the bookstore made some more money.

It's like one of those symbiotic relationships you hear about on nature shows or the Syfy Channel. One of the good kinds of symbiotic relationships in which both organisms benefit.

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