Ursula Chases Flying Squirrels #6

Ursula K. Le Guin -- Photo by Marian Wood Kolischby Ursula K. Le Guin

Wouldn’t it be loverly if everybody who reads this never bought a book from Amazon again?

Terrified that independent booksellers might get some tiny share of the season of gifts, good will, and profits, Amazon has just announced that anybody who goes into a local bookstore, scans an item, goes home, and buys the same item from Amazon will get up to five dollars off the price.

If you are really into destroying your community in order to save a buck, Amazon will provide you a phone app for this specific purpose.


Out Here coverUrsula K. Le Guin is a founding member of Book View Cafe. One of her recent books is Out Here: Poems and Images from Steens Mountain Country, co-authored with photographer Roger Dorband.

She contributed an original poem, “In England in the Fifties,” to Book View Café’s anthology Breaking Waves, which benefits the Gulf Coast Oil Spill Fund.



Ursula Chases Flying Squirrels #6 — 12 Comments

  1. Alas, I had an opposite experience. I went to Bookpeople, my local independent, to buy Michael Ventura’s new essay collection If I Was a Highway, but it was not in stock. To get it in time for Christmas, I had no choice but Amazon.

    Now one can’t expect independents to carry everything, but this was a book I particularly expected them to have. Ventura is well known locally as a columnist for the Austin Chronicle. When he did a reading from the book earlier this year, the reading space was standing room only and they sold a pile of books. And this is an excellent gift book — large format with photos by Butch Hancock. Seems to me it should have not only been available, but also displayed.

    Support your local independent bookstore, yes, but also support your local writers.

  2. Hmm, my local bookseller can special order books in 2-3 days, never much slower than Amazon. I bought 7 books to give away for Christmas (well, some were for me to read and then pass on), all from brick and mortar shops. (Like, actual brick. It’s the building material of choice where I am.) But of course, I’m blessed to live in a town with four bookstores, a newsstand that stocks all the new mass market paperbacks, and a toy store with a superb selection of the best kids books of all time. Amazon? I didn’t even need to hit up Barnes and Nobel.

  3. Hearing about the new Amazon “screw local stores” app just tore it for me. I’m taking the pledge – no shopping at Amazon. Shop locally as much as possible.

  4. Yeah, Amazon’s pretty evil. I can see the only way the destruction of brick and mortar stores will end is if a store becomes a publisher and is the only channel for certain titles. Probably titles of local interest. Souvenir type store maybe. I don’t think even a used book store can beat this type of thing.

  5. I just decided to take the plunge into ebooks, and ruled out the Kindle based on Amazon’s business practices. I just picked up my iPad, and I’m shopping here, and through my local independent bookstore.

  6. We don’t have an independent bookstore; even our Borders closed this last summer. We have several used stores, which I am happy to patronize, and we make a semi-annual pilgrimage to Powell’s–but it’s not something we can do casually.

    Ipads are spendier than Kindles (but I feed both my Kindle and Palm Pilot at Smashwords and Baen).

    But if I need a new hardbound book in a hurry for a gift, Amazon is all we have.

  7. Amazon are miserable monopoly-chasers, and have already persuaded me to go with the Kobo e-reader. Never has it been looking so good. I won’t say I’ll never touch them for anything, but they’ve already irritated me down to “once, as a last resort, in the last three years”.

    I’ll take this latest as a sign to sling some more recommendations about. Based on my recent experience, there’s still a great crowd of buyers out there who are pleasantly surprised to hear of practical alternatives…

  8. Now that Borders is gone, there is only one small independent bookshop in town. It’s very eclectic, which is nice, and I like ‘aging-hippy’ owners, but their selection is limited. Yes, I can order from them, but it takes longer (generally) than any online sites, and I pay full price, to boot. I love to buy books and read, but I’m on a limited budget. Something like Amazon, or even Borders brick & mortars (RIP), offer a discount that is very helpful for me. I don’t like what Amazon is doing, either, but for many small towns in America, it’s pay full price locally or go without.

    Then again, I could just go to the library…

  9. There’s some so visceral about an actual bookstore, where everything has been lovingly curated. There’s a sense of excitement and exploration. If I purchase at a local bookstore then I buy many books at once. Sometimes its dangerous, but always fun.
    I purchase from Amazon, but only where it is impossible to find otherwise (I spent years searching for Rebecca’s World by Terry Nation and tracked down a used copy on Amazon last year).