My bookstore supports the community in ways Amazon never will

A great Michigan bookstore loves to make personal recommendations. And unlike Amazon, they don't mind paying taxes

Published December 9, 2011 1:10AM (EST)

We asked our favorite local bookstores to share titles that fit the American Spring theme. Buy them direct from the store and help our essential independent stores survive and thrive.

Featured bookstore: McLean & Eakin Booksellers
Location: 307 E. Lake St., Petoskey, Mich. 49770

American Spring Book List:
Confessions of an Economic Hit Man
The Big Short
Shock Doctrine
People's History of the United States
The Forever War
Smartest Guys in the Room
Boss: Richard J. Daley of Chicago
Here Comes Trouble

About McLean & Eakin Booksellers

A couple of years ago a woman approached the counter at our store and asked to speak with the owner. This is rarely a good sign; it’s right up there with having the person you are dating say, “We need to talk.” It’s just not going to end well. However, once we started talking I learned she was a teacher from a school hours away in an area populated with malls and megastores (we are in rural northern Michigan). She was visiting our store because over the course of the summer we had turned one of her students into a reader, and she simply had to see the store that had effected this transformation. This is just one example of why local indie bookstores are so important. This child grew up in an area that had many large bookstores to choose from, yet none had managed to spark the love of reading. This is the kind of thing our staff lives for, to create of wonderful reading experience by finding just the right book for each reader. No, this doesn’t usually result in a financial windfall. In fact, as you have undoubtedly heard, bookstores are fighting an uphill battle these days. This isn’t because booksellers are not searching through stacks of books to find those few gems that you should spend hours with. No, it’s because this work of curating that we do is now so easily and quickly turned into a sale for an online retailer.

Technology has only made this process easier for the consumer and more painful for the merchant. None of us at M&E got into bookselling to work at a fulfillment center; in fact, that term seems like an oxymoron to me. What could be fulfilling about such a place? No, we really treasure the books we stock and sell; they are not simply products to us. We feel this love of books serves our customers and our community well.

This past year we have hosted dozens of author events at our store (free of charge) and brought many authors to area schools to visit with students (also free of charge). How many authors has Amazon brought to my community? Zero. Over the last decade our store has donated nearly $113,000 to area schools and nonprofits by allowing our customers to designate 10 percent of their purchase to an organization of their choosing. How much has Amazon donated to our region? Nothing. To quote Homer Simpson, “Charity is something you do when others are watching,” and perhaps that has been our mistake. We don’t yell enough about our charitable acts. But the fact is we aren’t charitable to our community because it is a good marketing strategy; we are charitable because it is the right thing to do. And don’t even get me started about the tax revenue our business creates for our challenged state! Taxes are a burden we shoulder proudly and as any good and responsible business should, the same burden that Amazon works so hard to shirk.

So this holiday if you are tempted to use that infernal scanner on your phone when you are shopping in your local merchant's store, try to think about what it would be like next year if that store and many others were gone. If you are like many of our customers, you’ll go out of your way to make sure their doors are open next year and many years to come.

Buy the books here.

By McLean & Eakin Booksellers

Related Topics ------------------------------------------

American Spring