Has it come to this? Is it left to USAToday/Associated Press to be the guardian of our literary culture?
Beth J. Harpaz, AP Travel Editor, has selected nine bookstores that she considers “worth a tourist’s time” because each is “more than just a place to buy books.” The nine bookstores are:
- BOOKS & BOOKS: 265 Aragon Ave., Coral Gables
- CITY LIGHTS BOOKS: 261 Columbus Ave., San Francisco
- ELLIOTT BAY BOOK CO.: 101 S. Main St., Seattle
- POLITICS AND PROSE: 5015 Connecticut Ave. NW, Washington
- POWELL’S CITY OF BOOKS: 1005 W. Burnside, Portland
- PRAIRIE LIGHTS: 15 S. Dubuque St., Iowa City
- TATTERED COVER BOOK STORE: 1628 16th St., Denver
- THAT BOOKSTORE IN BLYTHEVILLE: 316 W. Main, Blytheville (Arkansas)
- THE STRAND: Corner of 12th Street and Broadway, near Union Square, Manhattan
What do you think of this list? I would add Moe’s in Berkeley to it, for one.
LINK: Nine destination bookstores worth putting on a tourist’s itinerary (USAToday). IMAGE modified from this source
As noted before, the Europeans are less sanguine about large internet companies than is the U.S. In France, Amazon wanted to offer free shipping to its customers. But France has a law intended to protect booksellers from predatory competition. The International Herald Tribune summarizes:
The 1981 Lang law was passed at a time when booksellers were losing sales to supermarkets and other new competitors. It was meant to assure that the French public had equal access to a wide variety of books, both high-brow and low-brow, not just heavily marked-down publications. The law has twice come before the European Court of Justice and both times it has been affirmed. The law is not considered anti competitive because all book retailers are held to the same standard…. In the Amazon case, a union of French bookstores won its lawsuit against the company last month over the free-shipping offer, which applies only to deliveries within France on book orders of more than €20.
The result of this is a $1500/day fine currently being levied against, and paid by, amazon. Who will win this game of chicken?
The chains’ dominance of the bookstore segment of the U.S. book publishing industry is a result of the value the country places on open competition. Would you be willing to give up bargain pricing if it meant a thriving culture of independent bookstores and a system that rewards authors with a comfortable yearly income? According to Critical Mass, that’s the choice that Germany made.
POSTING WILL BE A LITTLE LIGHT while I’m on the road.