What would you do if, all of a sudden, your favorite source of books was unavailable?
Whether it’s a local book shop, your town library, or an internet shop … what would you do if, suddenly, they were out of business? Devastatingly, and with no warning? Where would you go for books instead? What would you do? If it was a local business you would try to help out the owners? Would you just calmly start buying from some other store? Visit the library in the next town instead? Would it be devastating? Or just a blip in your reading habit?
I have five book suppliers that I rely on: my local library (both for borrowing and purchasing, from the Friends of the Library sale), online retailers (I was using Amazon, but have recently switched over to Powell's), book swap sites (BookCrossing and Book Mooch), Waldenbooks (which is kinda far away, so I only go when I have a special order called in), and Wal-Mart (an unfortunately necessary evil when you live in the middle of nowhere).
The one that would devastate me the most by going out of business would probably be BookCrossing. I have so many books registered on that site, and I love seeing where they go and who else reads them. I've also used it to send books all over the place; last year I sent a box of books to a guy down in Brazil to help him build up a library. BookCrossing is unique, and I don't know what I'd do if it suddenly went under. I don't really invest any money in it right now (I can't really afford to buy labels, so I just print off my own), but if I knew the owners were having trouble I would find money from somewhere to help them out. That site is wonderful!
I would also be upset if Waldenbooks disappeared on me. There are NO bookstores in this area, so when I discovered that store (30 - 45 minutes away), I was overjoyed. It's on the way to the university I was attending last year, which made it convenient to shop there. Now, though (with gas prices the way they are), I can only go if I'm running a few errands in that area. I love the people at the store. They hosted a Harry Potter book 7 release party at midnight the day the book came out, give a discount to teachers, special order anything I want, and are just generally nice and knowledgeable. It's a smaller store (in a really tiny mall), so that probably helps. They already get a lot of my money, but I'd be willing to spend more if I needed to.
My county library is really small, and they usually don't have the best selection of books. Special ordering from other libraries takes way too much time; I had to wait so long for a copy of The Devil Wears Prada that I ended up just buying it at a grocery store and kicking myself for spending the $6 after I finished. There's another library in the next county over (which is, like, 15 minutes away), and even though I can't check out books from there, I could still buy from the FotL without any problems. So that wouldn't be too bad. Same goes for my online suppliers; if they were to go under, I could probably find another one to use without a second thought. Not interacting with a real person makes it harder to feel loyalty to a company.
Last but not least, Wal-Mart. In all honesty, if the Wal-Mart in my town were to go out of business, I don't think I would care. They provide a lot of jobs for the people around here, but their customer service sucks and the book selection is pitiful. I usually go there for the latest YA fiction, because it's super cheap and I don't have to go very far.
But you don't have to take my word for it. Visit Booking Through Thursday for more opinions.