Saturday, February 09, 2008

Some Heresy For A Self-Professed Left-Winger

I saw this post over at Ezra Klein's blog, and I couldn't help myself. While I disagree with him that on-line book retailers will, over the course of time replace the physical book store - shopping is as much a social activity as it is an individual activity - I was so glad someone said what I have said privately, but kept under wraps.
I'm one of the many who has no problem with large, chain bookstores.

I remember reading the occasional story in The Nation on the numerous threats to our culture posed by the spread of Borders and Barnes & Nobles book stores, and I just couldn't help but wonder what the fuss was about. They don't pay their workers enough? Name a company that does. They strangle creativity? By the ability, through economies of scale, to present more rather than fewer title? They aren't local? No, but their staff is, and most have a section on local history, local authors, even local ghost stories and legends. Their employees don't know what they're talking about? Again, I don't look for expertise in a clerk; I look for the ability to find what I'm looking for, a different kind of skill than knowing the stylistic difference between John Cheever and John Barth.

Unlike the demise of the physical music store - which is as much the fault of the record companies as it is on-line file sharing and music downloading - the book store, I think, will stay with us at least a while longer. And, yes, I enjoy milling through our local Borders (I think they have a better layout, and selection, on balance, than the Barnes & Noble).

Virtual Tin Cup

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