Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Confessions of an Unapologetic Indie

I’m not an economic priest. My bookstore is not a confessional. I’m tired of handing out “Hail Locals” to guilt-riddled shoppers. If you bought a Kindle as your sole reading device, you have cut out your local bookstore when there are options for e-readers that don’t eliminate indies. It’s your choice, but don’t come whining to me that you really want to shop local, but you have to be “smart about your money.” I agree, you should be smart about your money. You should know that local businesses hand out thousands of dollars worth of donations and items to schools, organizations, and clubs throughout your community every year. Maybe shopping local isn’t a priority for you. Fine. Talk to Amazon about donating a silent auction item for your son’s school trip to D.C. and ask for a discount on books purchased for your school district. I’m sure Wal-Mart would sell your dance recital tickets or put a bucket on the counter for summer camp applications. Maybe Costco will supply the food for a fund-raiser, but I doubt it. If your local businesses dry up, so do your local newspapers and along with empty store-fronts, your organizations will lose supporters. The whole conversation seems silly because it just makes sense to keep your money in your community, no matter what your political views are. I know that I can’t help everyone who walks into my store. Sometimes people want books at a price that I can’t afford to give them, but when a customer tries us first, before online or big-box stores, I feel like maybe there’s a way for us all to survive. This little rant isn’t meant to be the end, either. I’m just proposing that we think about the bigger picture and what kind of community we want to live in.

~Mara Lynn Luther
Chapter One Book Store
Hamilton, MT


  1. Whenever I travel, I shop at local indie bookstores. Maybe I could get a better deal on Amazon or at Costco, but Amazon and Costco don't care about local communities. I am proud to work at Chapter One, proud to support our community. We have the most loyal customers ever, and they care about keeping Hamilton a place where small businesses continue to stay open in spite of a bad economy. Book lovers are a loyal group. Doreen

  2. Hear! Here! We must be steadfast in our dedication to shopping locally if we want to continue to grow the quality of our community. Having an independent bookstore in our little town is nothing to take for granted.

  3. Thanks for pointing things out, I really think that many people don't even consider the consequences when they go for 'low low prices' above everything else.

  4. Darling, you rule. -Kate Robinson
    (Brookline Booksmith employee)

  5. I wish you were in NYC. I would shop at your store. I promise.

  6. I own a bookstore, and it's frustrating to have a school ask for a donation to its fundraiser, and then see a teacher submitting a purchase order for books from Buns and Noodle.

    You'll save a few dollars--but you'll lose a bookstore.

  7. B R I L L I A N T!!!
    I love this. Thank you for putting into words what so many of us at indies feel every day!
    Kaley (RJ Julia Booksellers)

  8. Absolutely - I'm nowhere near Hamilton, Montana, but Amazon doesn't create local jobs, Amazon doesn't have employees and owners who will show you interesting books outside your comfort zone.

    You're doing the Lord's work!

  9. Well said, Mara. Makes me remember I can't One-Click out of one side of my mouth and gripe about everyone buying their cheap crappy coffee at Costco out of the other.