Saturday, March 24, 2007

Wow. Who would ever think a short entry on independent bookstores on a little blog like this would generate such traffic, comments, and e-mail? On a Saturday. It's like an unpopular blogger's miracle!

But I need to clarify a few things, even though I know the clarification will probably make people stop reading and commenting. Talk about the Narcissist Catch 22!

Uh... it's okay to laugh at that. Because if you can't laugh at me, what can you laugh at?

Anyway, I did this a few minutes ago in the comment section to yesterday's entry, but I want to offer a more public apology to reader Brandon. While I think he misinterpreted my initial post, I totally over-reacted to his comment. For the record, I apologize for taking my bad Friday out on Brandon. That was uncalled for. Somehow, as I typed the words 'idiot' and 'fool' last night, they seemed less harsh than they did when I re-read them this evening. Sorry... the host of this blog doesn't always have good manners , but he usually has decent manners for his guests.

For the record, let me state that I shop at the Barnes & Noble across the street from my office, order from Amazon, order from InsightOut (which, capital-G Gay as it is, is still part of a Big Publishing Empire), and, well, one of my best e-mail friends these days is with Hastings. Plus, I have friends at all of these outlets, and more. So let me be clear that I am not an enemy of chains (and for the sake of expediency, let's lump Amazon in that category.)


When I grew up in the Charlotte section of Rochester (pronounced Shar-LOT, 'cause we do things differently in Rochester) back in the '60s and '70s, there was a popular delicatessan at the corner of Lake Avenue and Stutson Street. It had been around for a long time, and was very popular. Business was good.

And then one day a national chain dumped their equivalent of the Quickie Mart a half block away. The delicatessan was gone within the year. The owners of a 1,000 square feet corner store couldn't keep up with the new national chain's prices, and that was that. There was some customer loyalty, but it wasn't enough to keep it going. And the Charlotte (remember: Shar-LOT) neighborhood was ultimately worse for its demise. Not that the consumers didn't save a little money... we just lost some humanity, and the personal touch that is sometimes absent when the Quickie Mart replaces the neighborhood deli.

And that's what I fear when independent bookstores start going under. There is nothing intrinsically wrong with chains or Amazon, but those little bookshops -- gay, mystery, so tofu-ish I'd probably never set foot in them -- well, they are a unique part of our community that will be hard to get back after they're gone.

Okay, now THAT is a lot of typing for a guy with a drink in front of him on Saturday night/Sunday morning. Coming tomorrow: we discuss Mary Kay's comments from yesterday regarding other gay independent booksellers.