This weekend I got an exciting confirmation from Quail Ridge Books, an independent bookstore in Raleigh. They will be bringing New York Times best-selling author Ally Condie to visit my school during her book tour this fall. How much would it cost to host such a popular young adult author? Nothing, and Quail Ridge will sell her books at the event with a 20% discount that can either be passed on to my students or donated to our school. Obviously, I’m thrilled and it reminds me once again why local, independent bookstores are so important to communities.
Durham, Raleigh and Chapel Hill are lucky to have so many independent bookstores. It has been a real struggle for them to keep their doors open as local bookshops across the country are closing. In 2011, independent stores’ revenue made up just 4.3% of annual book sales, and that percentage continues to drop. The rise of ebooks is killing local stores. Last week’s settlement between HarperCollins, Simon & Schuster, and Hachette will drop the prices of ebooks for two years, putting another nail in the coffin. While this is good news for Amazon and consumers of ebooks, many fear this will be devastating for brick and mortar bookstores. In approving the settlement, Judge Denise Coats stated, "It is not the place of the court to protect these bookstores." She is right. It is up to the community to save its bookstores, and librarians have a good reason to help in that fight.
For the past 10 years, The Regulator of Durham, Flyleaf Books of Chapel Hill, and Quail Ridge Books have brought authors to my school like Frank Beddor, Jacqueline Kelly, and J & P Voelkel at no cost to my library. I have been able to take my students to their stores to see Laurie Halse Anderson, Louise Rennison and Sarah Dessen. They have generously given me advance reader copies of much-anticipated novels and beautiful posters. In return, I stop by regularly to pick extra copies of books my students want, I publicize their events, and I buy my own books in their stores.
Even with my 20% teacher discount, it is not economically feasible for me to purchase all my library’s books at a local bookstore. Also, I do not have the time to label and cover every book I buy; I use Baker and Taylor for the majority of my purchases. When I can though, I buy local. Last year, I spent approximately $700 of my budget at The Regulator and nothing at Amazon. My fellow librarians try to convince me that it is so easy and cheap to use Amazon Prime, but I will continue to be loyal while these stores still exist. What I have received in return cannot be calculated, and I am so grateful to have these booksellers as my peers.