I've blogged about my antipathy towards independent bookstores before. And the recent tweets on Twitter.com encouraging everyone whose local Borders are closing to choose indies have evoked a Pavlovian response in me.
Instant irritation with a "No Effin Way" close behind.
Even though my "local" Borders is 75 miles away. Even though I only shop there 4 or 5 times a year. Even though that store is staying open (for now). I am—almost irrationally—angry that indies seem to be gleefully celebrating the toppling of the big box chain. And I am all the more determined not to shop at an independent bookstore.
Indies have, by and large, created a culture of literary elitism that by its very definition limits its market. And, at least in my experience, they rarely carry what I read. Want proof? Take a look at the bestseller lists of regional bookseller associations. It's littered with literary fiction, mysteries, non-fiction. No romance. So I'm not about to seek out an indie bookstore (often located out of the way) just to have them order in books I'd like to read since they can't be bothered to carry them in stock and then have the salespeople sneer at me when I stop by to pick up my order. I will just transfer my book buying budget even further onto the internet. Or shift a greater percentage to ebooks. Or just shop at Barnes and Noble.
And, at least amongst romance readers, it's pretty clear I'm not alone. Not alone in experiencing sneering booksellers. Not alone in finding a hostile retail environment in independent bookstores. And not alone in scoffing at suggestions that I transfer my Borders book budget to a segment of bookstores that treats me and my fellow romances readers with disdain.
Borders bankruptcy is bad for readers. Romance readers in particular. And it is anything but positive news for indies. Even if they mistakenly think that they have something to gain here. They'd gain a lot more by reaching out to romance readers the way Borders does. By carrying books I want to read. By encouraging a love of ALL books, not just those they deem intellectually worthy.