BookstoresJune 8, 2009
Books, books, books. My husband and I are both college professors, both were English majors in college, and my husband went on to earn a Ph.D. in English – needless to say, we have books. We read books. We buy books. We encourage our children to read books and we buy books for them. Highlights of our honeymoon and our 10th anniversary trip were finding large used bookstores. It is a rare month that does not have at least one book purchase on one of our Discover cards.
The world of the Internet has expanded our book buying experiences considerably. Yes, I have my Barnes and Noble membership, and my Border’s membership. I am a member in good standing of the Book of the Month Club, the Quality Paperback Book Club, and the Children’s Book of the Month Club. But the sheer enormity of Amazon.com has made it a useful research tool for me. What books are out there on natural beekeeping? What can I find on needle felting? What textbooks are available on Environmental Psychology? And once you’ve looked it up on Amazon it’s a simple step to purchase it there too. Besides, often when I look elsewhere they simply don’t have the book.
I don’t know that using Amazon is especially green. The Barnes and Noble store closest to me is about 40 miles away, so certainly I save gas by shopping online. I have never heard one way or another about the nobility of Amazon’s policies or practices; I don’t think I’m supporting Asian sweatshop labor with my purchases. Still, there are ways to improve, and a recent visit to Amazon reminded me.
I was looking for a particular out of print textbook. Plug it in to the Amazon search and it pops up – it’s not available at Amazon, but used copies are available from numerous sources. How to choose the vendor? Well, there is the price of course (this particular book actually cost me 1 cent – – plus $3.99 shipping, although one vendor was selling it for $40.85, plus shipping – a used copy). But there is also value in using particular vendors. In this case there were three I would consider for their social contributions: two Goodwill vendors and Better World Books.
I first learned of Better World Books at last year’s Green Festival in Chicago. Better World Books supports literacy programs around the world. They provide the materials for book drives and will buy your used books (or accept your donations). They sell both new and used books and have an extensive collection. I learned something else too. If I had gone to Better World Books first I could have saved some money – o.k., 3 cents – but still. I think I need to get into the habit of checking Better World Books.
Sometimes, though, you want to just browse a little privately owned bookstore for the treasures you can find. Is there a comparable online experience? Why yes there is Run For Cover Books. One of the owners happens to be an online friend of mine – hello JoannaW! Run for Cover “offers a wide and constantly expanding array of new and used books on a variety of eclectic subjects, particularly in the various shades of politics, religion, history, biography and social sciences.” Their topics are actually more appealing to my husband and I’m encouraging him to add them to his go-to and browsing source lists.
It is a rainy, dreary day today, just right for reading a book.