Buying books online (and other stuff ;) )

28 Jan

I have read several remarks about what a negative thing it is to buy books from retailers like Amazon and Waterstones and other big chains. We all know the down side of big business I work in an independent shop myself (not a book shop) So I’m aware of how hard it is to survive. Now I do shop on Amazon and occasionally in Waterstones and a lot of these remarks can make you feel guilty for indulging in online shopping.

Well I’d like to flip the subject on its head for a moment and look at the other side of this, from my own personal experience.

I live in a small village with no book shop at all of any variety. When I do go out into the ‘real world’ I go to a town which I wont name here. Now I never used to buy my books from the big boys because there was an independent book shop in the town centre and I chose to support them. Well the little independent eventually closed down.

So with regret I eventually moved on to Waterstones and then Amazon as I do a lot of my other shopping there. I still feel sad when I walk past the coffee shop chain that now occupies the former book shop 😦

Well you could say go somewhere else another town etc but I’ll tell you why I don’t. I don’t drive and being in a rural community the public transport is not great. Coupled with that I have a phobia of travelling alone outside of my comfort zones which means I have never been to many of the towns which would be considered local to me. This also makes me feel uncomfortable sometimes amongst other people when out shopping. The shop I work in having become part of my comfort zone.

There is of course the other problem when shopping in my local town, that the retailers whether it be books or not simply don’t sell the products I want which forces me to shop online.

To digress on this point for a moment, they don’t sell my bra size, they rarely sell clothes I like and when they do they hardly ever fit me because I am petite. I use natural and organic cosmetics which you cannot get for love nor money (although another big boy, Holland and Barrett are starting to stock Lavera it isn’t always available in my ‘local’ store.) I have a small shoe size in quite a wide fitting and I don’t wear leather so shoe shopping can be difficult to. Is it any wonder I get anxious when I’m out.

Now I could go back to eating meat and coating my body in alarming chemicals and stop wearing underwear and start wearing the kind of clothes I hate just because they are fashionable and it’s all that’s available. Or I could go to online retailers who are prepared to offer me the good I want.

But back to books. The kindle and other ereaders seem to have come in for criticism too. Don’t get me wrong I love the look, the feel and the smell of a real book but they now occupy more room in my shoe box sized bedroom than I do.If I had unlimited space I’d probably go on and on buying paperbooks. In fact I still do buy the odd one because it is a thing of beauty that no digital image can capture. I have too many books (never!) and too little room. Before you say it no I will not sell them, would you sell your child? ( I hope the answer is no!) Kindle though does have it’s advantages:

  1. I don’t have to worry about storage space anymore, I can now buy a big series of books like Game of thrones without moving into the garden.
  2. I don’t have to carry a sometimes very heavy book to work everyday.
  3. I can switch between books as the mood takes me.
  4. People can often read the classic for free which is a great why to encourage people to take the plunge with an older book and get to know the authors of some truly brilliant works.
  5. Kindle allows people to become self published authors. Now some might argue that this isn’t always a positive thing but that’s another argument. This gives people the opportunity to put their hard work out there and, good luck to them, try to earn a few pennies along the way. Online retailers aren’t always the enemy of small business, let’s not forget writers can be independent business too! In a world where you’re more likely to get published if you are a celebrity writing about how many people you’ve slept with than a first time novelist Kindle could be the answer.

In conclusion, yes we definitely should be trying to support our independent retailers because it keeps people like me in work for one and preserves a sense of uniqueness and individuality on the British high street which is, sad to say, often lacking.

But that doesn’t mean we should vilify people who shop online or use ebooks. I hope I have shown there are good reasons why people use online retailers. Many just don’t have the choice of doing all our shopping at independent retailers. A good balance of the two is needed.


2 Responses to “Buying books online (and other stuff ;) )”

  1. csbarielle January 29, 2013 at 7:54 am #

    The coffee chain isn’t Costa by chance?! We used to have a lovely 2nd hand bookstore in Padstow but that closed a few years ago to become yet another art gallery. Padstow of course is also known as Padstein as celebrity chef Rick Stein’s name is on 3/4 of the shops… overpriced. Such a shame to see smaller businesses go to the wall.


    • daydreaminginwords January 29, 2013 at 9:56 am #

      no actually it’s a neros 😦 The ironic thing is the little book shop was usually cheaper than the chains. I used to love browsing their shelves. I bought my first Sherlock Holmes book there.


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