Kevin Brennan Writes About What It's Like
Gosh, not sure how I missed this back in May. Honest, I didn’t hear a word about it: California Bookstore Day.
I’m not exactly sure what I was doing on May 3 — probably sorting my collection of hole-punch confetti (by color, if you’re curious) — but apparently this event was a rocking success up and down the Golden State. I’m sure thousands of copies of the Fifty Shades Trilogy Bundle were sold.
Like most writers, I’ve always loved bookstores. Independent bookstores, I mean. The mall-style chain store was always one of the more depressing places on earth to me, and that vibe evolved into the Barnes & Noble/Borders model we all came to love because: espresso! I always had the feeling I was a lab rat in a marketing test when I went in there. Sure, I spent a lot of money in those places, especially the Borders on Union Square in San Francisco, which made me feel urbane and worldly, though I do believe I bought more CDs than books over the years in that place. (Always used it as an excuse to eat at Scala’s Bistro, across the street at the Sir Francis Drake Hotel. A killer farfalle con funghi there.)
But over time, I think a lot of independent bookstores have taken on a similar air. There’s a culture to them, and it’s one that’s not entirely bookish either. It’s a lifestyle thang — a collection of stuff that make us feel a certain way or lets us kill time in a setting that appeals to our egos somehow. Even so, what’s on the front table is usually the same stuff you’d see at B&N.
I wasn’t too pleased recently when I read that independent bookstores — or a large number of them, anyway — have been refusing to stock books produced through CreateSpace, the popular print-on-demand outfit that so many self-publishers rely on for paperbacks. (I’m about to use them for Occasional Soulmates, as a matter of fact.) Oh, right. I remember now! They’re owned by Amazon, so inherently evil and anti-bookstore.
I’ve said this many times, but the whole publishing and book-selling business is changing; we happen to be in the midst of a revolution. It seems to me, though, that the goal of everyone involved (maybe excluding Jeff Bezos) should be to get good writing into the hands of eager readers.
Boycotting CreateSpace books hurts authors, and, by extension, readers. Independent bookstores, celebrated so enthusiastically on California Bookstore Day, should rethink their strategy and welcome the work of independent authors.