mom-n-pop-shop1Deciding that I needed a new book to start reading I grabbed my backpack and walked down to my local bookstore. It’s a small, quaint bookstore that is family run and very homey feeling. Everyone there knows everyone else in the neighborhood and you can go in and talk about the latest best-selling book or the girl behind the counter who just had a new baby. It’s a nice place to go and I feel good going there.

It’s been my choice for the last few years to avoid chain stores as much as possible, especially the ones I personally feel are particularly evil in trying to shove mom and pops out of business. I know my boycott doesn’t really make a difference but I feel good about it and that’s what is important.

So anyway, I’m in my local bookstore, which I go to because I appreciate it and I want to support establishments like it. The thing is, I usually read random political books that they generally don’t have in stock so I end up having to order the book through them. Of course I could go into any of the 500 Barnes & Noble’s around here and get the book right away but that’s not the point, I’ll wait a week for my book if I have to but I’m getting it from my mom and pop.

At least that’s what I thought. Yesterday I go in to look for a book which they don’t have and I ask them to order it for me as I have many times before, only this time I see something different. I see the computer screen. And on the computer screen I see the online store for guess who? Barnes & fucking Noble. The whole time, all of the books I’ve ordered through them they’ve been ordering from barnesandnoble.com.

Barnes and Noble would not hesitate to move into this neighborhood and open a store directly across from this little bookstore and put it out of business within a year and they’re ordering books from them. Shouldn’t there be some sort of disclaimer? “By the way, we’re ordering your book online through a huge, evil corporation would you like 2 or 3 day delivery with that?”

Is that it? Have we really reached the end of true Mom and Pops? Is it possible for a small business to operate without somehow supporting a corporation that could potentially decide to put them out of business?

I stood there, I didn’t know what to do so I started trashing the place, I just started knocking over bookshelves and ripping pages out and…ok, really I just said thank you and left the store.

But I left my little bookstore feeling a bit dejected, curious as to whether I would go back or not. If they’re gonna order my books from bandn.com I can just do that and get them delivered straight to my house. Maybe there aren’t any answers to the questions. Maybe we can’t stop monopolies and globalization, but maybe I still go back to that little bookstore and try to find something they have in stock. Maybe I’ll buy that, I’ve been wanting to read the DaVinci Code for a while now. They can’t order their entire stock from Barnes & Noble. Can they?

I suppose I’ll go back. The alternative being B & N and some latte’ sipping, Jack Kerouac reading freak that I’ll have to smack for looking at me wrong. Goddammit Barnes, you and Noble are messing my shit up.

Posted by James Poling

A socialist, tinkerer, thinker, question asker and all around curiosity seeker. If you'd like to reach me you can use the contact link above or email me at jamespoling [at] gmail [dot] com.

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