Posted by: Kathy Temean | January 19, 2014

David and Goliath?

lena shiffman

I thought this snowy January Night illustration sent in by Lena Shiffman was a good fit with this post. Put on those boots and take your bag and buy a book at an indiebound bookstore. Lena was featured on Illustrator Saturday on January 22, 2011.

Leslie Zampetti who has been a guest blogger on Writing and Illustrating wrote me last week and asked if I would reblog her post on Rear in Gear ( She said, “I’m really on board with supporting indie bookstores, and I don’t think people are aware of how much they can do – even over the web.” I think we all are sad when an independent book store has to close it’s doors, so I am reblogging her post to give us all food for thought.

I buy tons of books for my Kindle, because it is fast, cheap, and convenient. If I am near an independent book store I will always buy a book, but gone are the days when I had time to shop and browse. Plus, I have at least 2000 books in my house and I have run out of spaces to store them. I am sure there are some books I could part with and I  have given books away, but it would take me days to retrieve all the books that are stuff behind and under sofas, books behind books in all the book cabinets and racks in every room of my house to come up with some that I could give away. Time I do not have.

So even though I want to do my part to help the independent book seller to stay in business by buying books from them, I’m like many of us who do not live near an indie store. I have to drive an hour to get to one. If you live near one of these treasures, or visit one when you are in their area, I think we need to point out things they could do to increase sales at their stores. The last one I was in did not accept credit cards, because they wanted to keep the price down for customers. I understand this thinking, but the studies show they would drastically increase their sales if they accepted credit cards. Also, developing an online shopping cart to make it easy for people who want to support them buy books. I haven’t read any of those studies, but anecdotally I know that it would have to pay for itself.

Even Barnes and Noble can’t compete price wise with Amazon, so expecting them to match their prices is not reasonable request. Remember how bad you felt when Meg Ryan’s little book store that was her dead mothers store went out of business when Tom Hanks and his big chain store moved into the area in You’ve Got Mail. No one can feel good about that and Amazon doesn’t have any store to provide a book signing to help you out when you get published. Below is what Leslie posted:

David or Goliath?

Patrick Carman, author of Floors and many other good books, posted an appeal recently on Facebook, asking book buyers to please alternate their purchases between indie bookstores and Amazon. I’m in full support of this, because so often, those indie bookstores are in full support of us as authors. (Not to mention they’re so cool…)


Patrick is mourning the loss of Mrs. Nelson’s Toy & Book Shop in California.  I’m still mourning over last year’s closing of Partners in Crime, here in New York – it was a great place and I bought from them when I could. (But not as often as I should have, obviously…)

Books of Wonder, Bank Street Books, 192 Books, and the Strand all get my patronage, both browsing and buying.  And Inkwood Books in Tampa is a wonderful shop – if you’re in the area, stop by and enjoy an author’s reading or just browsing. I’ve also used Powell’s in Oregon for both buying and selling. Yes, they’ll accept used books for sale online, and you don’t even pay postage.

So it’s not just local shops you can support by thinking indie. Even if you live in the wilds of the far suburbs with nary an indie bookstore in sight, try IndieBound. I first came across this great organization as an iPhone app – great reviews, rankings, and yes, locations of indie bookstores selling the ranked and reviewed books.

But Patrick’s point is a good one. It’s not always possible to go out to shop – and let’s face it, Kindle makes buying books from Amazon almost instantaneous. (Not to mention that Amazon does good, too – when I use this link, my daughter’s school gets a portion of the money I spend.) But just like everything in life, moderation is possible. Make a special trip to your local store. Bookmark an indie’s website and order from them. For every purchase from Goliath, make one from an independent bookseller.

You might need them one day. So far, Amazon doesn’t sponsor author visits…

BONUS!  I’m including a link to a fab Project Mayhem post. Chris Eboch posted some wonderful resources to help writers have a successful 2014.

The SCBWI does a lot to try and support the independent book stores, so keeping your membership up-to-date is a behind the scenes way of helping out. Would love to hear your ideas on how to keep the indie stores around.

Talk tomorrow,



  1. Reblogged this on Darlene Beck-Jacobson and commented:
    Here’s a great post on how to support indie bookstores.


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