Host Garrison Keillor answers your questions about life, love, writing, authors, and of course, A Prairie Home Companion.
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June 10, 2014 |
To the Host:
How do you feel about Amazon.com's effect on books and bookselling? I am biased, being a book fiend and librarian. Is any good coming from the company having such a huge effect on books and bookselling?
I'm in the midst of a five-week book tour, Steve, and have seen a lot of independent bookstores in that time and a couple of Barnes & Nobles and it's encouraging to see, places like Rainy Day Books in Kansas City, Book Soup in L.A., the astonishing Bookpeople in Austin TX, the amazing Powell's in Portland and Elliott Bay in Seattle, Parnassus in Nashville -- I could go on -- Changing Hands in Phoenix, Warwick's in San Diego, Boulder Books in Boulder, Book House in Albany, BookCourt in Brooklyn, Odyssey in South Hadley MA, Diesel in Malibu -- where you walk in, are surrounded by good books, immediately see two or three you want to buy, and you encounter friendly knowledgeable people who enjoy their work. I buy books from Amazon.com now and then and it's very efficient, takes about two minutes, but shopping is a real-life experience, walking into a store, smelling the fresh paper, scanning the New Fiction table, New Non-Fiction, looking over the Biography & Memoir shelves, and getting some impressions of what's new in the book world. What people really care about, they write books about, and so a visit to a bookstore is a slice of the intellectual life of our country. And they put on events with authors so you can meet writers and take their measure. The neighborhood bookstore can compete with Amazon -- the stores I miss are the shopping center chains, B.Dalton and Waldenbooks, that were at one time ubiquitous and put books in front of vast numbers of people. They fell to online sellers, but your local bookseller is not fated to go that way if it engages the literate public.