Ann Patchett of Parnassus Books penned a stirring op-ed in the August 1, 2013 edition of the Wall Street Journal. Titled “The Antidote to Algorithms: A Real Bookstore,” it chided President Obama for giving a jobs speech at a newly opened Amazon warehouse in Chattanooga, but forgetting all the jobs lost as one independent bookstore after another closes.
Of the many good points she made, I like this one the best: “Authors need a good bookstore: It’s a place to give a reading (Parnassus hosts about 250 author events a year), and a place where customers can browse, picking a book up because of the title or the cover or the staff-recommendation signs that paper the shelves. Our goal is to promote writers, writing, culture and community, which, I like to think, is aiming a little higher than free two-day shipping.”
I have to admit: from time to time I shop on Amazon and BN.com. I can get books fast, and there is a lot of choice on price.
Most of the time I place an order for a hardcover book with Burton’s Books, a small bookstore in my town of Greenport, NY. The owner is friendly, the service is great, and just about every time I go in he remembers to tease me about being a NY Jets fan. He’s a big Giants fan, and a signed helmet from some Super Bowl sets on the shelf next to the waiting book orders.
The banter is also part of the experience of taking home a book.