Monday, February 19, 2007


Harry Potter and the Independent Bookseller


Are you one of the literal millions of people who is anxiously awaiting the final installment of the Harry Potter series? Are you going to line up for release party, pre-order on-line or otherwise by Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows? If you are, I appeal to you to consider buying this book from your local independent bookseller.

If you live in any mid-size or larger city, you’ve probably got an independent bookstore in your area. In all likelihood, that independent store is not doing so well. The big chains like Barnes & Noble and Borders will push out many of these little guys, but the endless sources of books on the internet, led by Amazon.com, are the real killers.

You will almost certainly pay more for HP at an independent store – maybe even the full list price of $34.99. If you go to Amazon, you’ll find it for much cheaper – as of writing this, the pre-order is heavily discounted to $18.89. This is a heck of bargain that can’t be ignored – especially since just one other book should earn you free shipping.

But let’s face it – Amazon won’t be hurt if you don’t buy from them. Your local independent store is likely putting a lot of hope (and investment) into taking advantage of HP phenomenon. Help them out.

A local store here in Arizona has an interesting idea to help draw in the buyers – yes, they are charging the full list price, but for each pre-purchased book they are donating $7 to one of four local charities. This has a ring to it that makes me feel good inside and I will almost certainly buy my copy there. Of course they are also having the obligatory midnight release part – this seems a bit strange, but let’s face it – it’s a party for the release of a book and how great is that.

Join me in helping out the underdog – the independent seller during all the hype and hoopla surrounding Harry Potter. The big guys won’t miss the business, and the little ones just might kiss you in gratitude.


Disclaimer: If you’re curious, I don’t work for a book seller or anything – I just feel strongly about support for independents in a world of corporate domination. I don’t have anything against Amazon – in fact, I’ve linked it liberally in this blog as part of the associates program (someday I hope to get enough referrals to earn myself enough for a book or two, which means that it’s not as if it’s a lucrative program for me and so far I haven’t seen a so much as a dime).

9 comments:

Carl V. said...

I'm not one of the millions of HP readers so I won't be buying the book from anywhere.

I can see why this one especially is hard for Independents to compete with the big boys on. I have a friend whose wife takes his daughter to the big release parties that Barnes and Noble has for every one of these books. They are such a huge production leading up to the midnight release time. I cannot see many Independent stores having the financial resources to do this.

I know you commented on the SF Signal post about how to save independent bookstores. I still think they have to get very, very creative with their strategies to bring folks in the door. I like the charity idea. I also think these stores should try to use big sale opportunities like the HP books to offer some discount, even if they only break even, as an opportunity to get people into the store with the hopes of generating repeat business.

I love independent bookstores, I really do. But I buy from Amazon, Borders, and Barnes and Noble all the time because of the discounts I get. Spending less money equals buying more books. I feel bad sometimes, but at the same time I want to continue buying as many books for the best price that I can.

Neth said...

I'm no saint when it comes to buying from independents - while I have bought books at independents recently, I've also bought from Borders, Amazon, and Bookcloseouts.com. I spend enough on books that it's hard to turn down a good deal - utilizing remaindered and overstock books, I can easily get 4 discounted books for the price of 1 new book.

But, I do try to support the locals as much as I can and will continue to do so.

Race said...

I've got some outstanding local bookstores in Dreamhaven and Uncle Hugos. I try and do some shopping there. I do buy a number of used books there, but for new releases its much hard to pass up the 34% discount and no 7.25% sales tax. Of course the local stores also give me the enjoyment of browsing through stacks of books, as well as bring in top notch authors for signings and readings. I did just drop $70 at Dreamhaven last Friday, after learning that they'd had a break-in and were really struggling to make it. Neil Gaiman who uses them as his book seller blogged about it, and they have seen a nice little surge in buisness.

Neth said...

I would kill to have a store like Dreamhaven around here. As it is, there are three good independents that I frequent - 1 is all new books, with a mystery emphasis (though they get some decent author events of all genre), one is all used books (I supply reviews to their website), and the one I frequent the most is the closest and is a mix of new and used books - it's SFF section leaves a lot to be desired though.

Carl V. said...

I would love to be able to pop over to Dreamhaven at will as well! They do have some fantastic sales on a regular basis for online purchases though.

Race said...

I've been going to Dreamhaven for many years, It's only about 4 miles from my house, heck at one point I only lived about 4 blocks away. So it never really occured to me that it was also doing buisness online. With Clarkesworld going away, I will try and steer people to Dreamhaven

RobB said...

There is a dearth of good independent bookstores in NJ, especially in central NJ, where one can find good FSF books.

There are a nice handful of used bookstores.

Farseer said...

This is all very well, but you are basically asking us to buy books from independent booksellers out of pity, and the market doesn't work that way. It's just not realistic. Small booksellers need to find ways to make it convenient for people to buy books from them, and if they are unable to do so then their business model is inviable, because charity sales won't support them in the long run...

Neth said...

Well, I'll probably start utilizing Dreamhaven now that Clarksworld is closing.


Farseer-

There's no question that booksellers in general need to rethink their business model - on-line sales are hurting the corporate stores too, not to mention an overall decline in fiction books being bought.

As for pity or charity - it's more philosophical than that. I feel the coroporate domination we see in the world today is bad for society and I see pure capitalism as no good. It's not all about money and profits - quality of life and all that plays a significant role. These form a basic foundation for my support of independent operators of any industry.

I'm asking you to consider buying from an independent - believe me, I understand the temptation and need to search out the best bargain. It's just a way of looking at what your dollar is supporting - a large anonymous corporate entity with only shareholder profit in mind, or the local 'family next door' working hard to make a living and add something to the community.

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