Every year my mom used to take my sister and I to the mall and give us a little bit of money to pick out gifts for her and our grandparents. We had a lot of fun selecting just the right gift for each one. While the gifts were usually small, dust-collecting trinkets, they always elicited smiles from the recipients.
My kids are almost all too young for this sort of adventure. I have one who is old enough but he’d rather use his Mastercard debit card (that he funds by working odd jobs) to shop online. Being the thrifty type, he does not like to spend more than necessary for an item. It’s not uncommon to see small envelopes with electronic goodies arrive in the mail for him, many of which come from Amazon.
There has recently been more than a small bit of uproar in the genealogical community due to Amazon’s latest marketing scheme. In case you haven’t heard, they’re offering $5.00 off a maximum of three items if you use their app to provide information from a brick and mortar store today, December 10th. According to Amazon’s webpage about the offer, it applies on select toys, sports, music, and DVDs. There appears to be no mention of this offer applying to books.
Several genealogists have expressed concern about the effects on small independent booksellers. While I do agree that it would be extremely rude to go to your local small bookstore (or any type of store, for that matter) and send the pricing information to Amazon, I’m not sure that I’d feel the same way if the competitor pricing came from a mega-retailer like WalMart or Target, which I’d be willing to bet are the primary targets for this new marketing strategy.
I don’t know how it is where you live but where I live, there are very few independent bookstores. The closest bookstore to my home is a Barnes & Noble, which requires a 35 minutes drive with anywhere from 1 – 4 children in tow. This is certainly not my idea of a good time when it comes to book shopping. I can only imagine how a small bookstore might eye my children, waiting impatiently while I browsed for hours on end. I understand that this experience works for many but I can’t imagine how it would fit into my current lifestyle. There was a time when I spent hours in bookstores. In fact, there were many years of my life when I dreamed of someday owning a bookstore — a used bookstore, in particular.
I have been an Amazon Prime member since 2006 and I could not be a happier customer. I have found the customer service and policies to be quite suitable to my needs. I can read reviews, find rare and obscure titles, and compare pricing at my convenience. When I am ready to purchase, I simply click on the book I want and within two days a super friendly guy in a brown truck delivers it to my front door with a smile.
This does not mean that I don’t appreciate independent booksellers. Quite the contrary! In fact, I usually stash away a few dollars here and there so that I have a nice book fund whenever I attend conferences. I don’t think I would pass by Jonathan Sheppard Books without buying at least one book. This leads to another issue that has come to light today.
RootsTech 2012 has uninvited all book vendors. What’s up with that? The genealogy community cries out against taking business from small booksellers, yet a major genealogy conference banishes all book vendors from the very place that is their lifeblood? Was I a little upset that I didn’t book a room for RootsTech before they sold out? Yes. Do I feel a bit better about it now? Yes. A little advance notification of the policy change to the vendors would have been nice. I won’t rehash what other bloggers have said. Suffice to say, common courtesy and proper notice never go out of style.
I digress, I am supposed to be writing about Christmas gifts. My shopping is done. It was done before Thanksgiving. On Black Friday while others shopped, I wrapped. If you have not yet finished your shopping and would like to find some bargains, I recommend Gottadeal.com for both online and offline hot deals. The other place that I’d strongly recommend is your local historical society. Whether or not your gift is for a genealogist, the Connecticut Historical Society has a wonderful selection. You can never go wrong with locally handmade gifts!
Merry Christmas and Happy Shopping!