This blog, published free of charge since September 2007, is a way for me to stay in touch with seasonal bookstore visitors from afar and with all customers and friends when I am closed for my annual "seasonal retirement" in the winter. Thank you so much for following Books in Northport and for supporting Dog Ears Books.
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Saturday, September 27, 2014
Presence, Online and On the Street
Indoors today --
“Do you have an online
presence?” one visitor to the bookstore asked me. (Visitors with the most
questions are sometimes those least interested in looking at books, or so it
seems. They’ll ask if I’m open all year rather than take advantage of the fact
that I’m open now and they’re here
now, and it’s unlikely they plan
to come back in February, anyway.) Well, I have this blog online, and I have a
limited number of my special books described on the Dog Ears Books website, but
it isn’t one-click shopping. I was an early participant in the first
open-to-the-public, multi-dealer, used book marketplace, back in the mid-1990s,
but the Internet has changed enormously since then, so now I go my own way,
here on Waukazoo Street and online.
Then, lo and behold! In
Friday morning’s mail came a letter addressed to me from the online behemoth
itself, urging me to sign up for its “local register.” Yes, the behemoth wants
to jump on the “local” bandwagon, now that local has become hip and cool and
people are getting wise to supporting their home communities. The letter –
well, more a flier, really; there was no “Dear” salutation or closing from any
particular person with any kind of title – began not with a statement of
invitation or a question about my interest but with a simple imperative:
“Accept Payment Wherever Your
Business Takes You”
That’s right. The command had
no punctuation, and every word in what would, with a period, constitute a
sentence was capitalized. Strange? Stranger yet, to my eye, was
the meaning of the sentence. “Wherever My Business Takes Me”? As in, away from
my business on Waukazoo Street? This would be local how?
Welcome to my world
Okay, you already know it
will be a cold day at the center of the earth before I’d sign on with the
behemoth, but by coincidence my already-made-long-ago decision received
validation moments after I’d opened the unwelcome envelope, with a quote and
link in that day’s “Shelf Awareness” newsletter to a very detailed account of
the false economy Americans practice when they fail to support local business. No summary or set of
quotations from this article would do justice to its contents, so please follow
the link and read it for yourself.
How happy am I that the same
Jim Hightower now exposing the behemoth’s ugly underbelly has long been a
champion of organic agriculture and real local farmers? Very
happy! Independent bookstores,
writers, thinkers, and farmers: we’re all connected, and we’re all on your
side. Question: Are you on our side? “Our” including “your”?
A young Facebook friend of
mine commented recently on one of the links I posted there that he supports
both independent bookstores and the online behemoth. His take on this was that
when he knew what he wanted, he would order from the behemoth, while if he just
wanted to browse he’d go to a bookstore. I thought of Tinker Belle asking
children to clap their hands if they believed in fairies, and then I imagined
her asking them to clap again if they supported those who would kill fairies.
Believing a contradiction is not uncommon, and even acting on contradictory
beliefs is not uncommon. What more can I say? My presence is on Waukazoo Street in Northport.
Okay, I thought of something more to say. We're having some work done on our house this fall, and the new siding came from Northport Building Supply, the new windows from Thomas & Milliken. The money to buy the siding and lumber came from the sale of paintings (David) and books (me) in Northport.
Storefront -- today -- 106 Waukazoo St.
What goes around, comes around, as the saying goes. If it doesn't go around in the first place, don't be surprised if it doesn't come back your way.