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Monday, March 26, 2012

Brick-and-Mortar Bookstores vs. Buying Online: We're All Guilty One Way or Another

Posted By on Mon, Mar 26, 2012 at 9:30 AM

William Gibson loves bookstores, we should too! - MIKE MCCAFFREY
  • Mike McCaffrey
  • William Gibson loves bookstores, we should too!

When you look over your history of buying books, how do you feel? You should feel like hell. If you've bought even one book from an online seller, well, you blew it -- A Clean Well-Lighted Place for Books might still be open if it weren't for that book.

We're not kidding.

Everybody is guilty. Everybody sucks. Is it going to take every last bookstore in the city closing before people change their behavior? Yes, it will. And yet ...

How many times have you gone to a brick-and-mortar neighborhood treasure and quietly seethed over not receiving 30 to 40 percent off a new hardcover? And how many times have you made a special trip for a book that's out of stock? Relish in your guilt at Booksmith's special celebration and community dialogue tonight (Monday).

We recently went to a store and found only one David Mitchell book. Personally, we believe bookstores should have at least five copies of every David Mitchell book -- 25 David Mitchell books, always, at every store. We believe the same about dozens of different authors.

We should never own a bookstore, obviously. Perhaps we could handle an online bookstore. The whole thing breaks our heart. How do you make sense of it all, as a responsible yet realistic book-buyer? You attend a special Booksmith celebration and community dialogue, in which the owners break down their business, debate the tricky future, and celebrate five years as the new proprietors. And before you leave, you buy a book. I'd start with Cloud Atlas.

The celebration and community dialogue starts at 7 p.m. tonight (Monday, March 26) at the Booksmith, 1644 Haight (at Belvedere), S.F. Admission is free.

For more events in San Francisco this week and beyond, check out our calendar section. Follow us on Twitter at @ExhibitionistSF and like us on Facebook.

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Michael Leaverton


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