For weeks, I’d been anticipating a visit to the city—meaning a visit to the bookstore—and compiling a list of the books I’d buy. The evening I arrived, I walked out of the bookstore with four books, satisfied that all went as planned.
Until I got back to the hotel and thought about the price I’d paid. It was strangely high—for this particular bookstore chain is known for its discounts, and I hadn’t received any discount at all.
I checked the store’s online site: yes, all four books had serious discounts. In-store, I had paid over $90. Online, the total was only $60.
The next day, I returned to the store and was told the discounts are only available online. If you make the effort to visit in person, you get penalized. I promptly returned all the books and have since re-ordered them online.
Which makes me:
- sad that the joy of walking out of a mortar-and-bricks bookstore with books in hand has been diminished.
- feel cheap that I’ve been sucked into the world of discounted books, knowing full well the industry needs all the financial support it can get.
- wonder if I should break my ties with that particular bookstore chain and—if I’m going to be spending full dollars anyhow—support the smaller guys instead.
And I do love the smaller guys: the cozier atmosphere with lower ceilings, tighter aisles and higher shelves; the loved jumble of books and trinkets; the non-uniformed personnel. But I also love my discount; without the discount, I’d be buying far fewer books and relying much more on the library.
So I think the following will be my modus operandi from now on: when I need a book and am at home in my small town, I’ll feel free to order it like usual. When I’m visiting a city and want to browse—and perhaps come away with a full-priced impulse buy—I’ll visit the little guy instead.