What it Means to Be Independent

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What It Means to Be Independent

Ona Bookshelf · May 7, 2019 ·

B2plz has an opinion on the debate between independent bookstores vs. online entities. We (the indies) cannot compete with the behemoths (large online entities that shall remain nameless), nor do we want to, honestly. We would rather spend our time getting to know the books in our shop so that we can talk about them with customers who come in and browse our shelves for a great read. Online booksellers don’t build community. Freewheeling discussions about books, shared experiences, etc., help build community.

An indie bookshop can’t buy in the quantities that an online or chain bookstore can, which drastically changes the wholesale discount offered by book distributors. We were recently asked to purchase 70-plus books for a local nonprofit. We gave them a quote based on several factors, one being the current price listed on that online behemoth. A week later the nonprofit notified B2plz that they had found a more affordable supplier. Of course in that span of a week the online price of the title in question had dropped $4. Damn the algorithms that behemoths change weekly.

Marketing 101 declares it is necessary to have an online presence to bolster sales. Therefore, we take time away from our books to manage our social media, which is essentially fishing online for possible customers. We spend precious time updating posts instead of researching books for potential value. We don’t think we’re alone in our wish for simpler times. Window shopping is much more satisfying than just entering a username and password to shop (and don’t get us going on the privacy issues around online shopping). Is it hypocrisy for our bricks-and-mortar shop to also have an eBay store? Marketing 101 says not. The B2plz ebay shop has not yet experienced noteworthy sales, but we would probably see an improvement if we spent time better learning search engine optimization. More time away from the books—on the shelves—in the shop.

Books, books, books! at B2plz.

It is discouraging when people purchase online based on a minor discrepancy in price, when they continue to go for immediate gratification with a push of the button, when they continue to make purchases based solely on what’s easily had and cheaply priced. We hope people will

reconsider the community values of shopping local, experiencing local art and music, meeting and supporting their neighbors.

B2plz Books wants to keep community bubbling, stories circulating, and real estate values growing on Main Street. No password needed. More eloquent discussion on this topic can be had here and here.