With all the craze around the Harry Potter books lately (of which I’ve read none), I had a couple mini epiphanies that I figured I’d share with my readers, all 4 of you.
I’ve always thought that books are really great things, when I entered kindergarten I was reading at a grade 5 level. One of the things I’ve always wanted to do regarding books is to collect them for my impending offspring (no I’m not pregnant, but I’d like to be someday). I’d like to have a fully stocked library to read to them once they enter the world – Beatrix Potter, Dr. Seuss, and now, most likely, the Harry Potter series. I figured once the whole Harry Potter thing is finished, I’ll buy the complete boxed set that is sure to come out, and I’ll get to enjoy the books myself even before I have kids.
That’s when it hit me. It’s entirely likely that I will already be procreating long before the whole Harry Potter thing is even close to being over. With two more books guaranteed to be coming along we’ve probably got at least a 6 year wait for just the text, nevermind movies, and any subsequent books that might happen. This puts me around 30-ish, and in my prime (and so far the planned) childbearing years. That just creeps me out.
The other thing is that whole book purchasing thing in general. Unless we’re ambitious enough to hunt through independent bookstores – which usually carry primarily used books, because they just can’t compete with the big bookstores – I’m guessing that most of us get our new books through the Chapters-Indigo monster. Indigo has really dominated the Canadian new book market in recent years, with their acquisition of Chapters, Coles, and Smithbooks, not to mention the online bookstore.
So the other day I decided I need a new book for summer reading – a thick and ambitious book that I can’t breeze through in an afternoon, but neither requires too much thought to enjoy over some frosty beverages on the patio in the sun. Sadly, I became a whore of the commercialized world, and decided to pick up the new Oprah book club book, John Steinbeck’s East of Eden. I don’t feel so bad, because it’s actually a very good and highly acclaimed book, since before Oprah even existed, and I like to entertain the very real thought that Oprah doesn’t pick the books, some intellectual bookworm who doesn’t have a good TV face and sits in the back of Harpo studios enjoying literature and recommending it to the producers who in turn make sure the author wasn’t too scandalous and was nice to black people, then give it to Oprah to flog to housewives everywhere…. but I digress….
I checked chapters.ca for the book, and found it at 40% off – but I didn’t feel like waiting 24 hours (which so often turns into 7 days, which turns into 30 days, which turns into out of stock, outta luck sucker) so I trundled up to the mall to the local Coles books to purchase the book in person. It was there that I discovered that the 40% off was only a web special, and that the bookstore owner was quite angry. Their wee bookstore’s business has gone down drastically since it turned from a Smithbooks to a Coles and part of the Chapters-Indigo empire. The online sale of books, specifically the web-only specials is just killing their business. They’ve also got limited flexibility as to what they do with their store, and what they carry.
So for the satisfaction of having my book *rightnow*, I paid full price (minus 10% from my Chapters Card) for the book, and went on my way. I still don’t feel good about it though. Ultimately I just fed the extra 40% into the Chapters coffers. I do believe I’ll have to make a more conscious effort to try and patronize fully indepenednt bookstores when I can – and try not to perpetuate the situation of the grand monopoly strategically putting itself out of business.