Friday, November 21, 2008

Indie Bound

I did not know what that means - even though I should know by now. You can look it up here. Basically it is the idea of supporting small, local businesses - bookstores in particular - in favor of large national chains.

As a small publisher, and author, this is an interesting topic for me. I have nothing but gratitude for Amazon, as well as Barnes & Noble who carry my book. Not only do they carry Here You Are, but also do all the accounting and fulfilling. In the beginning, when I was having trouble convincing small bookstores that my book is a bestseller - as I found out at school book fairs - Amazon and B&N just let me put it onto their virtual "shelves". B&N even approved Here You Are for placement into their New York City bookstore - so that I could just start selling it without having to go around begging for shelf space at small bookstores.

At the same time, though, my very favorite thing in the world of shopping, is going to my local bookstore. It is my true love. What is it about bookstores and guitar stores that just makes you want to be there for as long as possible? They seem to be a retreat that not only provides relief from the hustle and bustle of the world, but also lifts or soothes our spirits, unlike most other kinds of stores.

Amazon takes care of necessary and impulse book buys when I am working online, or when I have a long Christmas list to fill and to keep track of, especially for products besides books I don't have time to hunt for at the mall in stores that may or may not have them in stock. Especially this year, with Amazon's commitment to only sell products that are not entombed in hard plastic casings that need special tools to open, and more often than not, seriously cut your hands.

Nonetheless - it is the local bookstore I love and particularly look forward to visiting several times during the Christmas season. Book Passage in Corte Madera (see my event in August) and as of yesterday - Books, Inc - in the Marina in San Francisco, make me especially happy by carrying Here You Are. It's like getting your kid into a really nice and wholesome school where you know good people show up.

Books, Inc is a great company. After going bankrupt when Barnes & Noble as well as Amazon appeared on the scene, they made a full restart, out of the small, independent neighborhood bookstore concept, and managed to build a wonderful business, preserving for us humans the human scale bookstore you like to hang out in, in your very own neighborhood. Not to forget the Books, Inc. bookstore at the San Francisco Airport - my favorite "Executive Lounge" - where I spend most of my time and money between flights.

Now that a few copies of Here You Are have made their way over to the Books, Inc. Store in the Marina, maybe some day Here You Are will be greeting people - especially arriving ones - at the airport as well. Lots of grandmothers hanging out in the Books, Inc. "Executive Lounge" looking for useful items to bring to the little ones they're visiting.

The question about the small, local business versus the national and international super chains remains a koan for all of us. The Golden Middle Path is to support both kinds of businesses equally and fairly, by enjoying and rewarding them for the different things they do well.

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