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The Value of Indepent Bookstores

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From the always-informative Bookslut, I learned about Tyler Cowan’s article on Slate about the value of independent bookstores. In What Are Independent Bookstores Really Good For? Not Much, Cowan argues that “Our attachment to independent bookshops is, in part, affectation—a self-conscious desire to belong a particular community (or to seem to). Patronizing indies helps us think we are more literary or more offbeat than is often the case. There are similar phenomena in the world of indie music fans (“Top 40 has to be bad”) and indie cinema, which rebels against stars and big-budget special effects. In each case the indie label is a deliberate marketing ploy to segregate, often artificially, one part of the market from the rest.”

Cowan makes some valid points. But I would still argue that indepents are a crucial, absolutely essential part of our publishing and book buying industry. More on this topic later…