Friday, October 23, 2009

Chained Enterprise

Let's get the immediate things out of the way: Tonight is drumming with Buddy Helm (dot com) at The Longhouse ( from seven to nine. And tomorrow is Circus McGurkis (dot org) from nine to four, rain and shine. I'm looking forward to both, although tomorrow I'll be in front of Liz's house at six-fifteen a.m. in the morning, which is a purposeful redundancy, a reminder of the insanity that led to me agree to such a godless hour.

Or what do I know? Maybe six-thirty is a godly hour. I've rarely seen it.

I'm concerned right now about those low book prices that the Icky Stores are promoting: Walmart, Amazon-dot-com, and Target, where -- unbelievably -- the customers are called guests. You can read all about it at if you haven't heard about it already. Basically, if I can get a brand new Barbara Kingsolver hardback for ten bucks, why would I ever pay twenty-five bucks again? Given that, why would anyone ever publish a writer less than (so far) Kingsolver, less known, less proven?

This is not to mention the independent bookstores who simply can't afford to match Walmart's prices.

The dilemma here is that, gosh -- those chains sure are cheap and convenient, aren't they? Yep. I needed a copy of the APA publication laws (believe me -- these people are not into "guidelines"). I called Haslam's. They don't stock it, but they can order it. Well, I believed I needed it right then, and even if I didn't believe that, I don't know if you've noticed, but I'm an American and I deserve instant gratification.

Mercy. Is that whole John Lennon INSTANT KARMA thing a reaction to that whole Red-Blooded American INSTANT GRATIFICATION thing?

Well, I called Borders and they had it and I got it and now I wish I'd waited. If I really want to be the change, then I'm going to have to, um, be the change. I can't cheat and go off to a chain just because it's faster and cheaper. I'm all for free enterprise except for when I'm not. I'm not for it when big fat corporations like Walmart can and do stomp out the Little Guy. I don't know what the solution is. Man, I can barely articulate the problem. But I do know that my books will have to come -- finally! -- from independent bookstores.

The profit Haslam's makes pretty much stays in Pinellas County. The profit Walmart makes? I hate to think.

I have a dear friend, Kati, who works for a non-profit organization that helps indies stay alive in the face of the chains. How awful that such an organization is even needed. It's like the American Civil Liberties Union. Too bad it has to exist, but as long as it does, it's got my membership.

Remember when Walmart was first spawned? It absolutely raved, in red, white, and blue tones, that all its items were Made in the U.S. of A. Remember that? Now you'd be hard-pressed to find any item made here.

It'll be hard to give up Amazon because I buy really cheap used books there. I'll consult with FlaHoos. She'll tell me where to get them.

Well, it took a little doing, but I've been buying nothing but Fair Trade Certified coffee for years. Now it's time for books.

And then vegetarianism.

But first I'm taking Mo back to the hospital.


olga kruse said...

small business man dilemma vs corporate or socialistic solutions.

The Natterer does have a conscience and I'm hearing it and we're all int eh same boat.

but is it sinking?

Anonymous said...

I feel her pain...and agonize over this maybe more often than she does.

Having watched so much of our local ecenomy leave our area, The Natterer's home as a youth, I wonder how long it can go on. More and more of the offerings are, like she said, made elsewhere. And that is a formula for, uh, what? What we are seeing right now in Upstate NY. Folks fleeing, employers fleeing, and rising tax burdens on those left behind.

Of those remaining, their purchasing power is limited by increased taxes and downward pressure on earnings as we send our dollars overseas. Eventually, there will be fewer dollars left over to keep the Wal*Marts open, even though they have the lion's share of the biz.

I'm no math whiz, but even I know that 100% of nothing is still nothing.

I do not have the answer.