Yet Another Journal

Nostalgia, DVDs, old movies, television, OTR, fandom, good news and bad, picks, pans,
cute budgie stories, cute terrier stories, and anything else I can think of.


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» Wednesday, March 30, 2011
"Understood Completely"
My Bookstore is on Death Row

I have every e-reader app that exists on my phone. I've been reading e-books since 2002 and I got my PDA. I can't buy some of the old books I've been able to get as e-books, and I haven't yet paid for an e-book. Frankly, I think e-books are overpriced. I can see paying $25 for a hardback (even if it is expensive, I usually don't). You have the paper, the printing, the binding, the artist paid for the cover, the dustcover, and the enchanting smell of book print. Nothing smells better than a bookstore. But why pay $19.99 or even $12.99 for an e-book? It's just bits and bytes. It doesn't have to be printed: no paper or ink or cardboard or gloss paper needs to be purchased, no press needs to be run or page cutter needs to be used. No one needs to pack the books in boxes to send to warehouses or to bookstores. So why are they so damn expensive? All you're getting is a copy of the equivalent of a PDF file or a word processing document that's been formatted for a specific reader. If I was assured the author would get 90 percent of the price, it would be different, but I know they don't. So the publisher gets the lion's share—for what? Having some poor schlub of an IT employee format it, and the bandwidth and storage space?

Plus if you end up not liking the book, you're stuck with it. You can't donate it and get the tax credit, or sell it at a used bookstore. If your Kindle dies and you decide to get a Nook, or vice versa, you lose all your Kindle books.

I noticed some of the commenters to this article complained that it was fair, that Borders put independent bookstores out of business. Well, maybe where they lived. In most of the places I have lived, Borders was a godsend. At one point, the only bookstore left in Providence/Cranston/Warwick was the Waldenbooks at Warwick Mall, the paperback bookstore and Read-All in Providence having been wiped out and Dana's used books having been destroyed by water damage from a fire upstairs in their building. The only other bookstore "nearby" was Readmore, a half-hour's drive away down Route 44 on the outskirts of Taunton, Massachusetts, and then they didn't carry everything.

When I moved to Georgia it was nearly as bad. At least there was Oxford Books, but the owner drove himself out of business by expanding too much. Otherwise, all there were initially were the mall bookstores (Waldenbooks owned by Borders and BDalton owned by Barnes & Noble). Yes, there were a few used bookstores. Used bookstores can be a goldmine—Oxford Too, for instance, had many gems, and I've found some nice stuff at Atlanta Vintage Books—but the majority of them are busts: repositories for hundreds of broken-backed romance books and novels I wouldn't have bought when they were released. I take care of my books and when I donate them they look new. I don't want to buy raggy books.

So for those of you who actually lived in areas that had cool independent bookstores, I'm sorry you lost them. Forty years later I still miss the paperback bookstore in downtown Providence. But Borders was the best. They've always had the best coupons—I've seen Barnes & Noble coupons; unless they've changed, they tend to be for bestsellers and "celebrity" crap—and the best remainder tables. If I have to buy from Barnes & Noble full time, I will identify the book there and buy it at Amazon; full price is too rich for my blood.

I do agree with the commentary about people who sit in the bookstore cafe and read the magazines and don't buy them, and use the regular books for reference and then put them back on the shelf. There's a place to do reference; it's called a library. You pay taxes for it. Go there and quit dirtying the books in the bookstore. You can read magazines in the library, too. Don't carry your magazine? Then buy it, don't put your germs back on the shelf for someone else to buy. Freeloaders. Whose fault is it the stores are closing? Maybe it's yours, you cheapskate.

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