Defending Big-Box Bookstores

At the Atlantic, “Two–Make that Three–Cheers for the Chain Bookstores.” Link from the NBCC blog, Critical Mass.

Although there is some reality in the image of the chains as predators (ours is a capitalist economy, after all), it is not the whole truth or even, perhaps, the most important part. The emotional drive behind the anti-chain crusade is an understandable mistrust of big corporations allied with the knee-jerk snobbery that is never far from the surface in American cultural life. “I am a reader,” the interior litany goes, “therefore I belong to a privileged minority; I patronize exclusive bookstores known only to me and my intellectual peers.” With the chains, which target a wider public and make the process of book buying unthreatening to the relatively less educated, the exclusivity factor disappears.

I enjoyed the article, because I’ve always enjoyed Barnes and Noble and Borders. (Not so much Books a Million.) On a trip to London, I can’t tell you how many happy hours I whiled away browsing in Waterstone’s, and admiring their floor by floor displays. I also shop at And my independent book and comic stores. I love books; I love shopping. Therefore I love bookshops.

One Response to “Defending Big-Box Bookstores”

  1. Amy Says:

    Whew! I have to say I’ve been feeling a little guilty about my fondness for Barnes & Noble. I have to say, they have been so nice to me since my book came out. I stop by various outlets and ask if I can sign my book for them. They’re always great about it and make a big deal about it, plus quite often the book has been on prominent display. So I can’t quibble about their helpfulness to authors.