Friday, February 1, 2008

Goodbye to The Book Room



Continuing in the vein of the Class of 2k8's blog which posted this week about favourite bookstores...Here's a sad bit of news:

Canada's oldest bookstore, The Book Room, will close its doors at the end of March. The Halifax bookstore has been around for 169 years. Since 1839! So, this bookstore lasted through two world wars and the Depression. Wow.

The reasons for The Book Room's demise: online ordering, big box bookstores (like Chapters in Canada or B&N here in the US), pharmacies/grocery stores selling books. And the dual pricing on the backs of books. The pice in Canada is still always higher, despite the strong Canuck dollar. (This really blows me away because I actually blogged about this.And I so don't consider myself a cutting-edge anything, never mind a cutting-edge blogger. Okay, okay. So, it was probably just dumb luck. Still... :) )

Anyway, I'm scrolling through a few articles about The Book Room and I realize that I, too, am responsible. No, I've never shopped there. I've only been to Halifax once and it was about a million billion years ago. BUT I am guilty of click, click buying books online. And I lurve the Barnes & Noble coupons that arrive in my inbox. And I'm all over those grocery store book sales where you get 3 books for $5 or something ridiculous.

I have one sister who stoically sticks by her indie bookstore which I believe is Another Story Bookstore. She refuses to buy books online or at one of the big chains. Flat-out refuses. So, when she gives me a book as a gift, I can feel doubly good. I have a new book to read AND I helped support one of the little guys.

So, this is what I'm thinking. What if the next book I buy is from an independent bookstore? And maybe every fifth book after that?

What do you guys think? To what extent do our pocketbooks dictate where we buy books? To indie or not to indie?

37 comments:

Amanda Ashby said...

I'm about 50/50. I do buy online because not all the books I want are available in NZ but whenever possible I try and use Barbara's Books which is a totally amazing indie romance bookshop in NZ. Not only is Barbara an amazing hand-seller but she is a fount of knowledge about all things romance and I swear she's read every single book in her shop. Insane!

Elizabeth said...

Yes, I feel very strongly about trying to support independent bookstores
They are often quirky and fun.
But, like so many of us, I sometimes get lured into Barnes and Noble or Amazon on line.
The big stores are pretty friendly too and have good discounts..............but we would also miss the little ones.
I'm sure you will get a ton of comments on this.

Family Adventure said...

For me it's the convenience of the bigger chains. They have everything in there...or they can get it. I often go with the whole family, and the kids disappear into the kids' section, my husband goes in search of tech books/biographies, and I drool over the fiction releases.

The smaller bookstores ooze cuteness and authenticity, but they just don't have as good of a selection. They do have better service, though, and they can often point you towards a hidden jewel a Chapter's employee wouldn't even have heard about.

I like your idea. I don't see why we shouldn't be able to go to a smaller bookstore once in a while. Thanks for the suggestion!

Happy weekend.

Heidi

Laura said...

That is pretty sad - what a landmark. But I can understand it happening. I use to frequent the small mom&pop book shop every Sunday - when I did not have children. Now we head to Chapters. It is a family affair now. I buy at Chaptersor on-line through Chapters or Amazon. I guess I have added to the problem.

Thanks again for the French vocab and phrases. I am pretty cofident now for Sunday's presentation. Fingers crossed for a good mark! I appreciate your help.

Sally Lawton said...

In the past year I've seen two local independent book stores close down near me and sadly I never shopped there. I've had loads of conversations with my dad about how sad it is local book shops are struggling, yet I'm all for a bargain and usually get mine from the supermarket or on-line.
So, I'm with you. I thik it's a great idea that one in five books I buy should be bought from an independent book shop.

Joanne Rendell said...

yes, i'm guilty of the click click too! and as you know, i'm totally excited to see that my book is now avaliable to click clickers!! but i always buy all my christmas presents/birthday presents (always books) at our local independent bookstore. i try and make up for my click-clicking that way!

gabe said...

The CBC said farewell to this bookstore on the radio. It's sad & we're all responsible. We can't have 'character' bookstores while supporting convenience. We'll all pay the price down the line when only the bestselling books are carried by the big box chains-with debut authors fighting for a spot on their shelves.(Of course maybe we'll be big name authors (dreaming here)-gabe

Patti said...

whoa....i won! sorry about the lack of visits. crying over the dog and edits seem to take one over...i will email you. thanky.

Brandy said...

Thought I'd pop over and see you! I agree that we need to support independant book stores. I don't have any near me. And that in itself says alot. I do think that these small bookstores need to have an online presence as well.

That said, have a wonderful day!

booklady said...

I used to work for an indie bookstore, so I'm a big fan of them. Unfortunately, I'm not a fan of the person who now owns said bookstore--and both of the other bookstores in our town! So I buy most of my books online or pick them up from the library. I do have a favorite independent bookstore in the closest big city, and I shop there whenever I'm in town, which always makes me feel better. Buying online is convenient, and I love being able to read the reviews, but nothing beats sitting in a warm and comfy bookshop paging through brand new, beautiful books.

Sara Hantz said...

It's sad when indie shops close. I buy online, indie, and major book stores. It just depends what I want, and where I am. Like Amanda being in NZ means that al lot of books I want to read are only available online.

Moanna said...

We used to have an indie bookstore down the street, filled with old tables and chairs, green plants and antique wooden book cases. They'd have a tray of cookies by the front door. They're closed now so I go to Border's or the library. But you've made me realize that I need to explore, find another indie bookstore before they all go away. Thank you for this thought.

Charles Gramlich said...

I'm sorry to hear this. I end up buying a fair amount online simply because there aren't any used bookstores near me. The one that I used to go to has moved. but there's nothing for me like going in an actual bookstore.

Thanks for visiting my blog, btw.

Beth said...

I do buy some books online but my very favourite independent book store sells both used and new books (at a discounted price). Makes me feel a tad less guilty about buying online.

Rebecca Hickman: said...

What's really sad is that there aren't any independent bookstores near me. The closest one is a two hour drive!

BTW, thank you so much for dropping by my blog. Your site is very well-done. I look forward to reading your work.

Sarah Yost said...

I get books lots of places: amazon, bn, our local indie, the library, friends and family, used book stores.

I'll probably go to hell for this, but I don't really like our indie store.

Carleen Brice said...

I do about 50/50 too. I support my local indies, but as someone whose book is about to be sold in Target, I can't point too many fingers.

Sarakastic said...

I usually can only afford to buy books if they are on sale, but this has me rethinking that

Don Mills Diva said...

Wow - it's so sad to lose an institution like that. I guess I am guilty as I buy a lot of books on-line - mostly for the convenience. Truthfully I never thought about the impact on booksellers until now...

Amy Ruttan said...

I prefer to buy in store. Unfortunately there is no little bookstores where I live. All big box.

:( That's really sad.

Sherry said...

I would love to support independent bookstores -- but where are they? They're going the way small markets went in the 60s when supermarket chains took over. This seems to be the way of everything -- bigger chains swallowing the smaller fish. Can we as individuals really change the tide? Only if we stay out of the big chains -- and is that going to happen? En masse? Probably not. This is what they call "progress" and as always with progress there is loss and it comes at a cost. Sad.

Kellan said...

I think it is so sad to see all these little book stores go out of business - it is just sad. I am guilty of buying all of our books either on-line or at Borders or Barnes & Nobel - I guess it was inevitable. It will happen to other business too - it is just the trend. It is a shame.

Hope you had a great weekend - see you soon. Kellan

Sandy Levin said...

I do prefer independent bookstores to the big chains, but it's just so much easier to buy books online - I don't have to feel the fabric of a piece of clothing or try it on to make sure it fits. Lately, even the big chains don't carry some of the authors I like to read, so buying online, at times, is the only way to go.

bella said...

This makes me sad.
We have a similar situation here.
Women and Children First, a very old feminist book store here in Chicago is going to have shut down, and for the same reasons. I personally have made a very intentional to buy all the new books I get from independent book stores. They will often order them for me, if they are not in stock.

wheelsonthebus said...

The problem I find is that the books I want are never available from the bookstore -- not even the big chains. I think I need to make more of an effort to have the bookstore order them.

Emily

MilitaryMom said...

Thanks for stopping by my blog! I love getting visitors.

I tend to buy my boks mostly from big box stores, because Minot ND doesn't really have a lot of independant stores. Actually, we just got our first big box store. I order all of my text books second hand online. Maybe if we got a store that sold what I needed would be loyal to them, but haven't found one yet.

TJBrown said...

I never indie. Honestly, I don't know of any indies close to where I am, so I either buy online or at Barnes and Noble.

teri, slinking away in guilt.

Johnie B. said...

We buy on-line...from the local "Used Book Store" before it went under...and from the "Super Book Stores". For us, it's a combination of convenience and the almightly dollar that drives our purchases.

Technology might soon be a factor as well. Our oldest son - Ross - reads four or more books at a time...lugging them all around with him. There's a new device called a "Kindle" sold through Amazon that we're thinking about getting him. He can download and store up to 250 books and can subscribe to weekly and monthly periodicals. Text and images are delivered via a wireless cell-phone connection in the device so he could buy books from anywhere in the world at anytime. It was created by one of the founders of Amazon.com who also reads multiple books at the same time but got tired of hauling them all around.

The world is changing...like it or not.

Stacy said...

I'm guilty of making most of my purchases at Barnes & Noble and Borders. It isn't so much the financial aspect as the convenience. All the indie bookstores in Ann Arbor tend to be in places I don't usually visit and involve awkward parking situations.

Shari said...

I am guilty as sin. I order my books online. Think Amazon.com. :(

We do have a Waldenbooks and a Bookworm store here. I walk over to the Bookworm once in a while to see if I find anything. But the click, click is so convenient. :(

Princess Pointful said...

This is something that we should all pay attention to... or else we all get sucked into the ease of online ordering without thinking about the long term consequences.

(and, yes, I am still seriously pissed-- our books cost so much more than they should, considering the state of the Canadian dollar! A lot of people just order online from the US to save cash these days)

Larramie said...

It's "Catch-22." Well-run indie stores are great but most of their stock is low and the prices high. So who do you support? Authors, by buying more books at discount, or the stores? I choose the authors.

Mrs. Annie said...

One would think that since I owned a wee little book business that I'd be a die hard indie. The truth is, unless I drive to Portland, we have a definate lack of quaint bookstores. I've given up on Borders, they are hopeless!

I sadly admit that I buy from B&N, Powells, or Amazon.

Maggie May said...

Thanks for visiting me! I am all for the indie shops! On line shopping is affecting everything. I like to browse before I buy!

laurie said...

you know, this is a very interesting post. (and the closing of the book room is very very sad.)

there's a great independent bookstore about three miles from our house. there's a borders about three miles in a different direction. and there's amazon, which is right in front of us all the time wherever we go.

so how do we shop?

we divide it up. i can't even really explain what motivates us. but if we're looking for one specific book, we'll often hop on amazon and order it. i buy a lot of used books that way--books that are harder to find in stores.

if we feel like browsing, we go to the independent place. it's a great, neighborly store, and they have eclectic things, and a crooked wooden floor, and one easy chair by the window, and it's very pleasant and calm.

and borders is more spur-of-the-moment. we're driving past, we stop.

i guess you can tell from this post that we buy a LOT of books. but we do try to spread our book buying money around.

Mary said...

Great post! I recently realised I’d fallen into the habit of only buying books online or cut-price at my local supermarket. I couldn’t remember when I’d last bought from an independent (for some indies it’s cheaper to buy stock from such supermarkets, where the retail price is less than they pay wholesale –- crazy). A couple of weeks ago, I changed this habit and ordered a title from my local independent.

I like your idea of buying one in every so many books from an independent. They are more expensive, but if we don’t all do something to support them, these wonderful bookstores will be gone.

Maureen McGowan said...

Did you know that The Book Room and its owner was mentioned in one of John Irving's books? I guess they owner helped him with some research, so he wrote the store into the book.

So sad that it's gone.