The Kindle, Amazon's surprisingly well-received e-content reader, has apparently completely sold out for the rest of the holiday season already, despite the fact that US Thanksgiving has yet to hit. The company confirmed to Silicon Alley Insider yesterday that the current Kindle is on backorder for at least another 11 to 13 weeks, and Amazon definitely won't be able to ship any before December 24. Amazon has since placed a notice on its site saying, "Due to heavy customer demand, Kindle is sold out."
I've been talking to booksellers lately who report that times are hard. And local booksellers aren't known for vast reserves of capital, so a serious dip in sales can be devastating. Booksellers don't lose enough money, however, to receive congressional attention. A government bailout isn't in the cards.
We don't want bookstores to die. Authors need them, and so do neighborhoods. So let's mount a book-buying splurge. Get your friends together, go to your local bookstore and have a book-buying party. Buy the rest of your Christmas presents, but that's just for starters. Clear out the mysteries, wrap up the histories, beam up the science fiction! Round up the westerns, go crazy for self-help, say yes to the university press books! Get a load of those coffee-table books, fatten up on slim volumes of verse, and take a chance on romance!
There will be birthdays in the next twelve months; books keep well; they're easy to wrap: buy those books now. Buy replacements for any books looking raggedy on your shelves. Stockpile children's books as gifts for friends who look like they may eventually give birth. Hold off on the flat-screen TV and the GPS (they'll be cheaper after Christmas) and buy many, many books. Then tell the grateful booksellers, who by this time will be hanging onto your legs begging you to stay and live with their cat in the stockroom: "Got to move on, folks. Got some books to write now. You see...we're the Authors Guild."
"We're being very ruthless," said Sam Clay, director of the 21-branch system. "A book is not forever. If you have 40 feet of shelf space taken up by books on tulips and you find that only one is checked out, that's a cost."
Obviously it is not. It is merely a byproduct. Consumers will spend a finite amount of money on books, and if it goes to Amazon, it does not go to a local business. I applaud that they are able to make books more affordable to so many people, but I have zero interest in supporting another iteration of the consumer culture of standardization, low expectations, and marketing.
I cannot imagine life without Half Price books. It's chain store, that started locally and they have the most amazing amount of used books and music and software, ever.
"I live in Cambridge," he explains. "Say I take my $100 and go and spend it at the Harvard Book Store. Then, the owner decides he's going to go over to Curious George & Friends to buy a present for his kid. Then that guy goes for dinner over at Harvest and they then go to the local hardware store to replace some bulbs. If you do that five times, you're taking that $100 and making $300."
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