My title, a line from Monty Python and the Holy Grail, came to mind during recent reflections on independent bookstores.
I used to go to bookstores to make discoveries. The best were quirky, and I loved to be surprised and find something new to read. My all time favorite was a sci-fi/fantasy specialty store in a low rent strip mall. The store was a labor of love for the owner, who made most of his income trading collectables – signed Robert Heinlein first editions and vintage comic books.
I could walk in and say, “I’m looking for urban fantasy that centers on spirit guides,” or, “I’m in the mood for a quest – got anything that’s not a dumb Tolkien ripoff?” Most of the time, I’d find what I was looking for and have an interesting chat on trends in the genre with someone who was steeped in that world. You never know what you’re going to find in a place like that. Sadly, independents are on the ropes, but as the Pythons put it, they’re not dead yet. Here is a link to indiebound.org, which has a tab at the top right to locate independent booksellers.
We don’t even have to abandon ebooks to shop at indies! In February, 2012, I wrote about The Book Seller, a great independent shop in Grass Valley, that encourages ebook fans to order through their website; that way they get a commission on each sale (the format is .epub, the standard all-but-Amazon format, which can be read on a Nook or any laptop, smartphone, or tablet using the free Nook app).
I’m pretty sure that for just about everyone reading this blog, books are a huge and treasured part of our lives. If anything good has come out of the Amazon-Hachette dispute, it’s information like this which can help me rethink the way I buy books.
As Mark Coker put it, the ideal is “a vibrant ecosystem of multiple competing retailers.” It’s good to know what I can do to help secure such a future.
Footnote, June 3: Calmgrove, a blogging buddy, noted in a comment that the initials of my title, I’m Not Dead Yet, form a nice acronym, INDY. In addition to independent bookstores, he says it has something to do with fruit fly genetics – feel free to pursue that with him if you wish…