First of all: Happy Pesach to my Jewish friends–1.7% of the country, but maybe more like 50% of readers of this blog? I hope you had a lovely seder, or two, this past weekend. And for you 78.4% of the country (approx 45% of readers of this blog): Happy Easter! I hope that all your eggs were found and accounted for. (Insert offensive fertility joke here).
Secondly: My Passover post is also a bookstore-economics post.
About a week and a half ago, at a moderate Procrastination Level 5 (on a scale of 1-7, with 7 being the-seder-starts-in-an-hour-and-the-haggadah-isn’t-ready), I called our local independent bookstore to ask if they had this book:
Here’s how the conversation went.
TfH: Do you have the New American Haggadah?
Local Bookstore: I think we had a big run on it! Is that the one by, um,
TfH: Safran Foer?
TfH: Yes, that’s the one.
LB: Let me check…
They ordered it for me, I got it a few days before the holiday started, and happy ending. This is one of many reasons why I love independent bookstores: the person answering the phone knew what book I was talking about by title. Even though it’s a book for only 1.7% of the country, and 4.4% of the Denver metro area.
However, despite what I believed 5 or 10 years ago, I also want Barnes & Noble to survive. We need as many possible ways to read books: online, on our mobile companion devices, on books we get wet in the bathtub, on tattoos. it’s a shame our economy can’t seem to support both storefront AND website book-selling. It shouldn’t be a zero-sum game.
When I was a pre-driving teen, a mom would drop me and my friend off at the first Barnes & Noble in our area. It had two stories, and it was near an overpass. We’d stay there for several hours. There was a vast, sunlit garden of shelves, the top shelf of which even I could reach. There were calming forest green and dark-stained wood colors. There were overstuffed, brand-compatible, chairs. There was coffee and tea. The B. Dalton at the mall had none of that, and the local indies had already gone out of business by the time I was old enough to be dropped off for hours on a Saturday.
Will I pay full price more often at the local indie place, with almost all the same things but less square footage and quirkier (um, less comfy) chairs? Yes. But would I mourn for our culture, long and hard, if B&N loses to Amazon? Yes.
What about those of you who tend to the bookish? Do you long for the big box chain thing to have never interfered with your relationship to your local indie bookstore? Do you mourn the loss of Border’s? Do you buy from Amazon? Do you buy with guilt, pride, satisfaction at a good deal, or all of the above?
And those of you of the Hebraic persuasion should really check out that Haggadah. It’s beautiful. Come by the house and take a look!
(P.S. In case you didn’t know, the title of this post is a spoof of the last line of nearly all seders, “Next year in Jerusalem!”)