Community trumps Amazon

You can help us
beat Amazon to kindling!

Our sales were 22% lower this February than last… and this, despite a supposedly recovering economy. Thank goodness for the strong community that’s grown up around the bookshop; we’ve got a lot of faith that that’s what will pull us through. Ultimately, nothing will beat the power of individuals pulling together as a group when they recognize their role in keeping their neighborhoods vital.

Bird & Beckett is proud to be a community hub in San Francisco, and one that’s particularly keen on giving writers, musicians and others a venue through which to reach the rest of us. But we’re also a bookstore; we need to sell books to stay viable. And, in fact, we’re very keen on helping to keep the physical book itself viable and central to the culture.

For some purposes, e-readers have their place, we don’t doubt.  And for a specific out-of-print book, online shopping is the way to go.  But we would urge you to value the physical book over the virtual one, and to privilege local access to that book over the vast warehouse in the cloud.

Buy a book online when it’s really the best, and not just the cheapest way to get it; use an e-reader when and if it appeals to you — but patronize your local bookshop as well.

We hope you take pride in the books on your shelves that hold meaning for you. Add to them as you expand your interests and your horizons. Cull your shelves to make room for new, meaningful volumes. We’ll take some of those old books in trade, and Friends of the Library will take more.

And come in to Bird & Beckett to browse the shelves and to buy the books that will keep you growing and engaged in a rapidly evolving world.

If the economy has got you in its bony grip, then get your books from the library! But don’t give up the book!

And don’t give up your community, with its markets, its dry cleaners, its restaurants and coffee houses, its bookstores, and its people — the ones you chat with as you go about your business and pleasure; the ones you can trade observations with about your children, your parents, your bosses, your employees, your government, your world, the snow on Twin Peaks. Or lack thereof.

Oh, Amazon has its virtues, of course. But its just the big box store of the internet. If the small bookshops wither and die, it will be a great loss to the community that nurtures us all.

So, when your talking to friends about how it’s time to get together again, use that time-tested phrase, “Meet me at Bird & Beckett!”  (“and bring your checkbook!”)

Thanks!

Monday-Friday, 11 to 8 pm
Friday-Saturday, 10 to 9 pm
Sunday, 10 to 7 pm

new, used, collectible – mostly books
– big ones, little ones, red ones, blue ones –

some wonderful used jazz vinyl – magazines and greeting cards

653 Chenery Street, in the Glen Park neighborhood
a block from Glen Park BART station
and bus lines 23, 36, 44, 52, J-Church

 

Glen Park Garden Club Meeting  on Tuesday 3/1 at 7:00 pm
with guest speaker Robert Kourick,
author of Roots Demystified – All welcome!

Bird & Beckett Book Club on Wednesday 3/2 at 7:00 pm
discussing The Good Soldier Svejk, by Jaroslav Hasek

Bird & Beckett Political Book Group on Thurs. 3/10 at 7:00 pm
discussing Imperial San Francisco, by Gray Brechin

 

What else can you do, besides shopping in Glen Park?

You might want to ask your representatives in Sacramento to collect sales tax from Amazon on internet transactions.  Amazon has recently threatened to fold their tent and stop doing business in states that want to collect sales tax from them.  Talk about arrogance! Urge Sacramento to call their bluff!

And if there’s still a video rental place within a mile or two of your house, why not use your Netflix subscription a bit more sparingly.  While you’re visting Le Video you can stop in at Great Overland Books on Judah at 9th Av.; if you’re stopping in at Red Hill Books on Cortland, there’s Four Star Video just across the street… we hardly need mention all the great bookshops on Valencia Street within spittin’ distance of Naked Tongue… or Green Apple over on Clement where you can get a book and a DVD both… if you’re satisfying your City Lights addiction in North Beach, wander over to Washington Square and visit Film Yard Video on Stockton… Anyway, you get the idea… Remember when there was a video rental place in right down in the heart of Glen Park, just steps away from Bird & Beckett? It’s gone now…

Oh yeah, go see live theatre! Remember what it’s like to see the actors right in front of you, in the flesh?

And go to the movies! We’re guessing the Balboa Theatre could use a boost. The Roxie too! As long as we stay in business, we’ll do book events at both from time to time. We recently sold books at the Roxie when three members of Sly & the Family Stone were in the house for a documentary on Sly himself. And we’re at the Balboa on Mar. 14 with two great poets talking after a screening of a documentary on artist Philip Guston (whose work has been a centerpiece of SFMOMA’s collection for decades).

Here are some alternatives with regard to the book:

— order books over the internet, principally from Amazon or maybe from Powells or Alibris, and save money, ’cause the discounts can often be very significant and they often don’t charge you sales tax (the state will just squander that sales tax on public services like keeping Diamond Street and Chenery Street free of potholes, keeping the sewers clear,  and funding the schools and the public health clinics);

— order ebooks online and read ’em on a reader, ’cause they’re cheap and don’t take up any room to speak of (a bookcase takes up wall space);

— just don’t read, ’cause there are plenty of other things to do and you can pick up a lot of info you need online or on public radio, or on Fox, of course;

— spend money on things you value, assuming you value them, like books, neighborhood green grocers, corner stores, performing actors and musicians.

If you’re suffering in this economy yourself, this might not be a good time for you to spend money you don’t need to, so please! get to the library & keep reading! And when your rich uncle is in town and wants to take you to Chenery Park for dinner, make sure you lure him into the shop and point out that great book you’ve just read that you’re sure he’ll love. If you linger longingly over something you’ve been dying to read, but that’s got 50 holds against it at the SFPL, maybe he’ll exercise his largesse and make you a little gift of it!

In any case, if you love the living, breathing culture that neighborhood bricks-and-mortar enterprises represent (and you wouldn’t be reading this if you didn’t), then put your shoulder to the wheel and help us beat Amazon to kindling.

In 2011, they’re making their stand throughout North Africa. We can’t rival that inspiring drama, but we have our own struggles worth mounting:  Stand up for collective bargaining rights, for pensions, for universal health care… and for healthy, vital neighborhoods right here & now.

Comments

  1. What I love about a book is the smell, the feel of the paper, the printing, the binding. One can tell when the publisher cares about the book from the binding and cover, does he think this is a special book for the ages, does the typeface invite you not just to the words but the flow, the pleasure of the text? An old book, yellowing, maybe spine cracked betokens readers past, not just history and persistence but also continuity between writer and generations of readers. What I love about local bookstores is the sense of the personality and sensibility of the owners embodied on their shelves, a chance to share a love of books, their stories and ideas and passions. A warehouse of books seems, paradoxically, empty.