My answer is: If they want to.
The thing is, though, I don’t always want to.
In the wake of the news that Barnes & Noble’s CEO resigned, the future of our last remaining big-box bookstore remains unclear, and what I want to know is: Is this my fault?
I am, after all — hold onto your bookmarks! — a big Amazon devotee. I buy books from Amazon all the time. (I’m an Amazon Prime member, which gives me free, expedited shipping.) And I have been criticized by other writers for doing so. (Porter Anderson recently discussed how writers have been criticized just for LINKING to Amazon on their websites. Oy vey.) And I don’t understand why.
Does this also mean I should be buying my groceries from small little markets rather than supermarkets? Should I be patronizing neighborhood hardware stores instead of Home Depot? Should I be paying more for my books as I do for my eggs, which are cage-free? How did the demise of Barnes & Noble become my doing?
The way I see it, isn’t it inevitable that bookstores will eventually go the way of, say, record stores and video stores. Books — like music and video — is heading digital, whether we like it or not. Is Amazon really to blame for this? Am I to blame? I mean, I’m all for paying an extra dollar or two at a bookstore — be it a chain like Barnes & Noble or an indie — to keep it going, and to support all the great things that they do, but sometimes the price differential is significant — like 10 bucks per book. And when you buy as many books as I do, and make as little money as I do (starving artist, anyone?) we’re talking hundreds of dollars that I’d rather see go to cage-free eggs than the same exact book that I can buy for much less on Amazon.
I guess I just don’t understand the school of thought that says writers should be going out of their way to buy at Barnes & Noble. (BTW, as a self-published author, I can tell you that Barnes & Noble — and many indies, for that matter — aren’t going out of their way for me. Not that I’m bitter. Just sayin.’) Shouldn’t bookstores be finding ways to attract US? Shouldn’t we WANT to shop there? And not out of guilt?
What say you, writers? Am I a bad person?
(Note: Immediately after I pressed publish on this post, I discovered this link to a story titled, “Bookshops Stay Relevant, and Viable, as Centers for Public Discourse.” Now, THAT’S what I’m talking about! If bookstores want to attract book lovers, they should become a cultural center! I may not be hell-bent on buying Exploring Diabetes With Owls at your store on any given day, because chances are that it’s five bucks more than what Amazon wants me to pay, but if you’ve got David Sedaris giving a chat and signing books, I’d certainly pay an extra five bucks — if not more! — for that.)