Sunday, April 19, 2009

Amazon, Apple and the partially self-inflicted death of independent bookstores

On the way back from Big Sur I stopped at the Santa Cruz
Bookstore--together with Powells and Elliott Book Company probably the
best independent bookstore on the West Coast, now that so many like
Cody's have bitten the dust. They're comfy, have a good selection, do
author readings and stuff, and this nice slightly rundown feeling. I
browsed for a bit and found $60 of books I liked. More out of
curiosity, I SnapTell'd them; thinking to myself "I'll pay the extra 8
bucks or so to keep this independent store in business. Turns out the
Amazon price for the lot was $34, with two independent stores selling
one new and one slightly used copy for $16+$8 in shipping.

Etiquette question: am I a bad person for not forking over 36 dollars
for the pleasure of browsing the store for fifteen minutes?

And the larger question--wouldn't it be more economically feasible for
SCB and other stores like this to get their prices somewhat in line
with the online pricing? Obviously, they can't price match Amazon, but
charging 70% more for the same service will drive people out of their
stores who would contribute to keep a local bookstore. I think it
they'd be within 20%, many customers would gladly pay that, especially
in beach front California. I spend $85 at Borderlands a couple of
weeks ago, even though I could probably have saved ten or fifteen by
going through Amazon. And I feel good about it, because it keeps
Borderlands in business.

P.S. I spent the $36 difference at Bugaboo, Gelato Mania, and Chefworks across the street, so they went to local businesses. (I think independent, but I could be wrong about Chefworks)

Wednesday, April 01, 2009

The fourth estate

I wanted to write a long post about how the newspapers' and press' problems are more because of lack of quality and the fact that instead of reading the local paper now everyone can pick the 3-4 best in the world, but this picture sums the flight from quality better than I ever could. The 20 red cycles are press photographers, the 5 green ones are protesters.

That's not reporting, that's performance art.