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“Buying Books” — By Georgina, Mommy-to-Be and Bookworm

March 17th, 2010 6 Comments

Reblogged From My Friend G f

For a short time I attempted borrowing books from the library.  Unfortunately it’s inconvenient for me to get to the library so I was always bringing them back late.

I’ve gone back to buying my books and I generally use Amazon.

Today I went into Borders and wandered around.  I love seeing the books they are promoting, picking them up, reading the back, maybe even reading the first couple of pages to get a feel for the writing.

I found a whole bunch of books that I would like to read so I pulled up my Amazon iPhone application, added them to my wishlist, went home and purchased them on Amazon for far less than the Borders retail price.  Sneaky, but fiscally responsible.

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  • Marcia

    That’s not fiscally responsible; that’s using a service (having phsyical stock on hand for customers to sample before they purchase) and not paying for it. If everyone does what she did, there will be no physcial book stores left for her to do it again.

    • Well, that’s kind of like saying by offering used books on Amazon no one would buy the new ones. People shop in different ways and price points. If you spend a lot of money on books, the few dollars you save here and there can add up. Others might only purchase a book here and there so Borders is more convenient.

  • Emma (rhymeswithemma.tumblr.com)

    I think that Border’s takes into account the type of customer who only wants to browse the books and finds other sources (be it online or at the library) to acquire them.

    That’s why Border’s also offers stationary and cards, paper goods, periodicals, small tchotchkes and gifts, etc. This is also why these places have cafes and often offer internet access. Because of the way books are perceived and consumed in our society, even Border’s knows it needs to offer other things to turn a profit.

  • Lo

    Just as you promote more wholesome eating, I think you should promote more ‘wholesome’ shopping: support independent book stores! Borders is like eating at Applebees.

    Unless you want nothing but the same old corporate book stores dotting the country…

    As for independents, Strand in NY and Powells.com are popular ones. Are there any good ones in Houston?

  • Amy Zacks

    In Baltimore, there is a non-profit called “The Book Thing.” Basically, this guy was able to find a donated basement, utilize all volunteers, and runs a free book “store” on the weekends. You come, pick up books you want to read and take them home. I have found entire encyclopedia sets there! It’s great. And in exchange, when you are done with books that you may not want to read again, you drop them off there for someone else to enjoy. Not only does it save paper for the environment by sharing, but you get new reads for free. Does anyone else know about any of these in their own city?

  • Alejandra Ramos

    I have to agree that this is not fiscally responsible. Books in brick-and-mortar stores are more expensive because those stores have to pay to be there (rent, staff, utilities, security, etc.). It may seem convenient to you now, but if you continue to make all your book purchases online, pretty soon these stores will no longer be able to afford to stay open and you’ll no longer have that convenience or the service provided by these stores (the ability to run and grab that last minute gift, those attractive displays that highlight titles you may have otherwise missed, the pleasant experience of browsing and turning the pages in books before making a decision, readings & signings, etc.).

    I also don’t really understand the argument that this is no different than the fact that Amazon offers the option of buying used books. There really are no parallels there. Amazon takes a percentage of all sales that are made through their site (including those from used books or outside vendors). Arguably, they make more money through these third-party sales since they’re only serving as the middle man and don’t have to deal with buying stock, shipping, staffing, or anything.

    However, by encouraging people to not spend their money at brick-and-mortar stores (whether large chains like Borders or smaller independent stores), you are absolutely taking money away from these stores and increasing the likelihood that these stores will eventually go out of business.

    While I absolutely agree that it can often be more affordable (and even convenient) to buy books online through Amazon, I also recognize that there is value in being able to browse through an actual bookstore. I honestly don’t think it’s any different (and actually it’s much lower) than the premium we pay to enjoy meals or cocktails in a fancy restaurant or lounge. Or to have a pleasant shopping experience and the assistance of a knowledgeable sales associate in a high-end department store or boutique. Sure it’s much less expensive to buy a steak at the supermarket or mix up your own Manhattan–but it’s not the same thing. There is a reason why we pay more at these places, and bookstores are no different.

    Sharing tips for saving money is a good thing, but I think it’s important to remember that there are repercussions to all our actions.

    I would definitely encourage you to check out the 3/50 project, which encourages people to support local and independent brick and mortar retailers and elaborates further on what I’ve said: http://www.the350project.net/home.html