Farhad Manjoo ignited the latest round of ‘will the local bookstore survive’ with his “Don’t Support Your Local Bookstore” tirade on Slate. (I couldn’t fail to notice that while Salon promotes a campaign to support local bookstores, Slate is bashing them.) Numerous responses Manjoo were published, twitter feeds with special hashtags popped up, and even Manjoo wrote a second article advising bookstores to change their tactics in order to survive. Not sure how many are waiting to listen to his advice. I’ve started several posts to describe the uproar, but life has been a bit hectic in the Allen-Niesen household lately. So here’s the upshot:
Bookstore are doing great this holiday season. Stores across the nation are consistently reporting an uptick in sales starting in the fall. It’s hard to give an ebook as a gift. Over Thanksgiving weekend, possibly with some help from Small Business Saturday, sales were brisk. I was in my local bookstore, Diesel, yesterday and it was packed. I asked how business was going and the owner said good, they’re sure to stay open another year. That is a holiday present for our entire area.
And here’s what Manjoo can’t do on Amazon. He can’t ask a live person for a tailored recommendation. My son likes Malcolm Gladwell, Bill Bryson, and Chuck Klosterman, what new author would he enjoy? Mia led me all over the store pointing out good choices. (Sorry, can’t tell you the answers, they’re wrapped under the Christmas tree.) Sure, Amazon would give recommendations based on my purchases, but I don’t have any problems knowing what I want, ever. And when we were done with my son, I moved onto my daughter with her own set of favorites. In 20 minutes I had a stack of books, all wrapped. As a bonus, I enjoyed talking to the staff and the other customers about books and the holidays.
I highly recommend that you do the same. Drop by your local bookstore in the next two days and challenge the bookseller to find the perfect book for the person you have yet to buy a gift.
Merry Christmas and Happy Hanukkah!