Book shopping scruples

I’ve been a crazy book-buying fiend recently, with all the Borders’ closings. I commented today to the bookseller at one store that I feel like a vulture. She laughed, “As well you should!” Of course, she was teasing me, but somehow it still seems obscenely true when we all descend en masse on these closings. I can’t tell you how much good stuff, really, I’ve gotten at three different closings. But it means that people lose their jobs. It also means that I fail to support local indies, which are great businesses to have around.

Recently, I read a Romantic Times Book Review article – I can’t believe I’ve started reading that magazine…it’s fun, actually – that was quite good in describing the sadness and misfortune of the lack of patronage in indie stores. Apparently, people go in, search the shelves, leave a mess and order on Amazon. Well, I’m completely into being frugal and smart, but how obnoxious can you get? Don’t they feel a little strange. Apparently not, since one person announced to the store that teasing a shops with her browsing and then binding her troth – or, at least, submitting her credit card number – to Amazon was just what she’d done. Hey, Mom, look at me! I’m saving money and screwing small business. People are so used to big impersonal chain stores that they feel very comfy applying the same values to Mom-and-Pops.

Now, I’m not saying you should have one set of values for small businesses and another for big ones. But, I guess I kind of am, aren’t I? Well, it’s not something I want to endorse, really. But think about it. If you go to Borders and browse the back covers and insides of books – in other words, “research” – and then order from a big online store, are you not just doing the same thing? And, yet, it doesn’t seem so terrible. When you walk out the door, you’re not saying bye-bye to the person who puts his sweat and capital into the place. Moral conundrum, perhaps. Life would be so much easier if you could just enjoy book shopping. And, so, you go to Borders, get the card, use the bucks and coupons and feel a traitor to your indie-supporting conscience. But books are expensive. But we need indies. But, but, but, but, but. Doesn’t it feel like that to you?

And, here I am, buying at all these closings, getting some nearly crazy-good deals, and thinking that, actually, if we could lose the big chains and go back to the days of stand-alone stores, it might just be better for everyone. Which kind of could get me on the topic of incorporating the best of the past with the best of the present. Which could lead me to give my idea of going back to (occasional) use of the horse-and-buggy. (I mean, do we really need to waste gas on a trip to the local grocery store for the milk we forgot on our earlier trip in the car to the grocery store?)Which is off the topic of books and goes to show you how fond I am of stream-of-consciousness writing.

Anyway, I bought stuff at Borders. I feel kind of bad. But I kind of don’t care. But….Get the picture?


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