Indies vs chains

November 17, 2007 at 5:37 pm (Doing, Publishing, Reading, Seeing) (, , )

I recently made a pledge to myself that I was no longer going to buy from bookshop chains and, instead, I would do my little bit to support indies and secondhand bookshops.  Living in London, this is not a hard thing to do – I have already found a fabulous indie that I’ve fallen in love with and I spent this morning in and out of the secondhand bookshops on Charing Cross Road.  Books are the driving force in these shops and the atmosphere that they create is fantastic.

I’ve never really liked Waterstone’s and, despite having worked in one during my MA, I’m not a big fan of Borders, either.  I find these chains terribly sterile and loaded with crap like book lights, Japanese-gardens-in-a-box, and nodding alien things rather than literature.  The thought of buying books from Tesco or Asda frankly makes my skin crawl – “Oh, I’ll have some onions, Quorn sausages, shampoo, and, yes, the new Charles Frazier, please.”  I understand what attracts people to these chains; it’s the cheap prices and reassuring uniformity.  Luckily, none of the books that I would consider buying are ever in the ‘buy for a fraction of the price ensuring that no one except the store makes any money’ offers, so I can trot down to my gorgeous, full-price indie without my wallet protesting that I’m forgoing a bargain.


1 Comment

  1. JMH said,

    I agree. The only reason I’ll ever go into one of the corporate chains is because it’s December 24 and I need to buy something non-threatening for my folks (they’re senior-citizens, they threaten easily). And these chains usually have some nice old ladies who wrap gifts for tips.

    But for me, I like a bookstore to smell like paper-rot, to be dark and cramped and haphazardly organized and to be run by an old man who looks creepy but is really nice if you get to know him. I can spend hours in those places.

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