Where Do I Buy Books? If Possible, I Don’t

YA Highways’s Road Trip Wednesday asks this week: Where do I buy most of my books? I confess I don’t buy most of my books – I do what every good reader must: I borrow them from the library. As writers and readers we must all support our local libraries, and the way to do that is to borrow (and return) their books. I can barely remember a time when the fourteen bucks for a new book was something I had to save up for. These days books are the one thing I never feel guilty about buying.  But not everyone is as fortunate as me and for those who can’t afford to buy books, the library is a life saver. GO LIBRARIES!

That said, for certain books, new releases, concluding books in trilogies (I’m looking at you AGAIN, Katniss) I shop at one of two local merchants, not the big box and not online.  I don’t do this for any political reasons;  it’s pure logistics for me, I’m sorry to say.

I buy almost all of my middle grade, YA and other young readers’ titles at Kidsbooks, a Vancouver retailer that specializes in, well, kids’ books. As you might imagine, this store is about as close to heaven for me as you can get. The fact that it’s across the street from some of Vancouver’s best sushi just seals the deal. My only complaint about it is that I have to pay to park, although the store will reimburse my parking fee if I make a purchase, which I usually do. Kidsbooks is a real driving force in the Vancouver young readers scene – they have frequent launches and signings (I met Suzanne Collins and Tamora Pierce there!).

The other bookstore I’ve been frequenting recently is a little bookshop in a neighborhood where my daughter takes swimming lessons. We pop in there after our hot chocolate, before her lesson.  They have a very limited YA and kids selection, but I did buy the entire Songs of Ice and Fire series there, book by book, over the last few months. I like a book store that one can just “pop into”, not with any particular book in mind, just to browse and absorb some of the magic.

One thing that’s missing in my daily wanderings, is a really great second hand bookstore. I often find spectacular secondhand bookstores when I travel, and I have had them in neighborhoods I’ve lived in before. They seem to be becoming a thing of the past though. Is Kindle killing the second hand bookstore?

Don’t get me wrong; I LOVE the big bookstore, and I love that I can check their stock online and run down there when I absolutely MUST have a book that day. I also love browsing in there. I outlined the reasons in a previous post. But it’s not my bookstore of choice because it’s hard to park around there. Isn’t that sad?

Now finally, why don’t I order books online? Well, I live in Canada, the land of the worst postal system on earth. When I order from Canadian retailers I frequently pay double or triple what postage would be to order from a US retailer to a US address (I have a postal box in Blaine, WA for this express purpose). Worse still I can wait weeks, WEEKS, to get a book from Amazon.ca or Chapters.ca. When I lived in the States, I used Amazon like a creature possessed. I’ll never forget the face on the FedEx man the day The Order of the Phoenix arrived. “Busy day?” I said to him. He gave me a look that could bend light. The poor man had been delivering books since midnight. It’s just not the same in Canada. The anxiety of waiting harshes my buzz about buying the book.

But…the future is finally here, I guess. Santa is bringing me a book reader, a Kobo. Now my desire to have a book RIGHT NOW and also not leave my house, pay for parking or speak to anyone will be satisfied. The beginning of the end? We’ll see.

5 thoughts on “Where Do I Buy Books? If Possible, I Don’t

  1. I like that the bookstore reimburses parking if you make a purchase. Creative incentives like that are the kind of thing that will help keep bookstores in business, I think.

    And what is it with the Canadian postal service? I’d not heard about it’s failings before (okay, so I’d not really heard much about it at all period before), but just today there have been a couple of people lamenting its incompetence. What gives? Come on, Canada!

    1. Ha ha! Stinkin’ UPS! I haven’t had any real problem with Canada Post (the regular postal service here), except of course when they went on strike forever and a day.

  2. Yay Libraries!

    I am very likely to bring pen and paper to the bookstore, write down the titles I want and go straight fromt the bookstore to the library to check out as many of them as I can.

  3. As a Canadian I totally feel your pain about the cost of shipping. You’d think we were on an entirely different continent or something. Just yesterday I went to order something from Sears.com (they were selling something through Sears.ca) and the shipping was more than the actual item. Needless to say, I didn’t end up purchasing the item. I usually have pretty good luck with Chapters.ca and don’t end up waiting all that long (I’m in Alberta), but I have heard of others not being so lucky.

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