Indie Stores Call BS on Barnes & Noble for Holding a Sale on Independent Bookseller Day
Shop local on Independent Bookseller Day!
The 10th Annual Independent Bookseller Day is on April 29th, though many small retailers like Libro.org have been running sales all week. But some larger bookseller chains seem to be trying to encroach on the day meant to give small businesses a boost.
The massive bookseller chain Barnes & Noble has recently gotten flack from readers, writers, and independent booksellers for running a pre-order 25% off sale this weekend.
Barnes & Noble’s history of undercutting indie sellers
Yes, some people will argue that this sort of action is just healthy competition at play, arguing that it helps grow the economy. But the reality is that this is just the latest in a long-standing pattern of behavior for B&N.
In early March, we wrote about all the changes, positive and negative, that B&N was making, such as only carrying books by “proven” authors and making a shift toward localizing their selections in a practice similar to many independent booksellers. Makes sense when you know their new CEO, James Daunt, previously ran a small indie bookstore chain before running Waterstones and now B&N.
However, what all of these changes seem to indicate is that instead of competing with Amazon and Audible, Barnes & Noble is instead trying to compete with independent booksellers.
The timing also seems a little suspect as many B&N locations, including their famous four-story Union Square location, are working to unionize, though that could be a coincidence.
To be fair, this isn’t a new struggle. Heck, the 1998 Tom Hanks and Meg Ryan movie You’ve Got Mail is based around a struggling indie bookstore owner fighting against the giant chain bookstore (a very thinly veiled B&N stand-in) that opens on her block. But it’s still scummy to see the same greedy behavior pushing out small businesses when large businesses are still making money.
Why Independent Book Stores are Important
It’s also important to remember that B&N may be able to offer books at a cheaper price, but that money is still ultimately going to an international chain. Bookshops.org reminded readers in a tweet thread that local bookstores “[host events, [c]arry signed copies of your favorite books, [c]reate jobs, [g]ive back to the local economy” and “[s]ometimes have cats.”
If Barnes & Noble is one of your only options for buying books in person, that’s completely understandable (and definitely preferable to Amazon). But independent bookstores also deserve and need support. If you can, try popping into your local bookstore this weekend.
Chances are you won’t just find a book, but a good experience to go with it.
(featured image: Sean on Flickr)
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