And so we have come to another Thanksgiving, a holiday that had a serious reason for being (I would say raison d'etre but I don't speak French) but has devolved into an excuse to eat, get the family together, and go shopping.
I don't mind the first two; I can't stand the shopping part and am opposed to the over-commercialization of all holidays - Halloween and Christmas as well. I do spend time every Thanksgiving to reflect on the things I am thankful for; I hope you all have plenty, as I do, to be thankful for.
Interestingly, despite the above condemnation of shopping and commercialization, I do also perversely look forward to the discussion of Christmas gifts. In my family Thanksgiving has always been the time the children write out their lists to Santa and the adults would then plot out who would give what for whom, or at least start the process.
I have gotten many great books under the Christmas tree as a result of this process since, of course, the subject of "what would you like" inevitably comes up.
The other twist on the commercialism concept is that, as a bookstore owner for years, an author, and an online merchant I certainly want other people to go out shopping, especially if they want to buy what I am (or was) selling. This does have, of course, more nuances than I am willing to write about (or you want to read about), but I will mention at least one.
The online book market is dominated by Amazon. Not only do they sell directly but if you want to have a presence in the used book market as an independent seller, no matter how big or small your inventory, you have to sell on Amazon. The second largest used book seller online, Abebooks, is owned by Amazon. I sell, by necessity, on both sites.
Amazon is indubitably the simplest way to buy books online. They have every book, you can buy the books with one click and you can get free shipping for a small subscription. However, independent sellers and publishers get smaller "cuts" of their sales on Amazon than on other sites. For this reason alone I try to buy my used books on other sites, like Biblio and Alibris or, if I can, the publisher's or author's direct site.
I admit this process is much more time consuming and can be slightly more expensive. In this season of giving thanks, though, it is one small way I try to give thanks to the small independent publishers, and booksellers.
With my sincere thanks for all of you who read this I wish you and yours a fabulous Thanksgiving.
Me as a critic (be careful! the harshness will be well concealed!)