“The A Word”: Part 3- See it here. Buy it here. Keep us here.

Imagine, if you will, that one day you’re driving down Main Street and you see signs taped on Spellbinder’s windows that read: “Going out of business SALE!” and “Everything must go!” In response, you wander into the bookstore, only to find that most of the shelves are bare. The store looks empty, desolate. You buy a few books, and then realize this will be the last time you buy a few books, or any book, at Spellbinder. The next time you drive down Main Street, you notice that Spellbinder is just an empty storefront. It occurs to you that now a few of the only places in town to browse new books are Kmart and Vons.

Luckily, this is not Spellbinder’s reality.

Yet.

We’re doing our very best to stick around. And we appreciate the efforts of our regular customers who are doing their best to keep us here! Thanks! But the book industry is evolving, and in response, we’re trying to adapt to the changes. For example, we revamped our web site, started a blog, made eBooks available through our web site, started a freqent shoppers program, and brought more unique gift items into the store.

We’re trying to do our part, but we need our customers to meet us halfway. That means continuing to shop with us, encouraging other people to stop by our store, and telling friends that if they really want an e-Reader, they should buy any model but a Kindle (because that way, you can buy eBooks through us and not exclusively through Amazon!).

One thing we can’t do is match Amazon’s discounts. As a small bookstore and not a megacorporation, we can’t afford to sell books at a net loss like Amazon. We don’t have stock to fall back on. But we can offer certain things that Amazon can’t.  We can provide helpful customer service from real people who really love books. Our knowledgeable staff loves to meet your reading needs and provide you with in-person recommendations and staff picks. We’ve heard from some customers that all they need to do is look at our “staff picks” wall to find their next great read. We’ll even take the time to look up that one book (you can’t remember the name of it) by that one author (who you can’t remember the name of) that had a blue cover (or was it yellow?). An Amazon search engine can’t do that for you.

Amazon also can’t offer that valuable “third place.” The notion of the “third place” comes from the idea that as society becomes increasingly busy, people need a third place other than work and home to connect with people on a real level. We hope that Spellbinder Books provides a sanctuary for those seeking quiet, a meeting place for old friends, and comfortable atmosphere to sit back, sip on coffee and dive into a really good book. We also host events like author readings, concerts, book club meetings, kids’ activities and parties to gather the community in the “third place” we’re trying to create and preserve here in Bishop.

We hope people recognize and appreciate Spellbinder’s services to the community. We try to give back to our customers with small things like free gift wrapping, our frequent shoppers program, and serving as an adjunct visitors center for tourists. But we also give back to the community in big ways like providing local employment, raising close to $10,000 for ICARE and giving discounts to schools. Can Amazon match that?  Nope.

So, if you see a book in our store that you really want, don’t look up Amazon’s competing prices on your smart phone. Instead, recognize that it feels good to be standing in a bookstore browsing through books and that the price you’re paying for your book in Spellbinder will help keep us around a little longer. If you see it here, then buy it here. That way, you will keep us here.  Thanks!