[Editor's Note: I have massaged this piece for longer than I care to admit. One should never openly denigrate ones work, but in wondering why this has taking me so long to finish I confront two options. One, I was trying to get it 'right,' and that is true up to a point. I am driving at something with this post that I am never quite able to quantify, hence the endless editing. Which then leads me into the second reason, that it just doesn't make any sense. The post starts by making a point then goes about proving it...or not proving it in this case..in the least effective way possible.]
I wish my ennui with Amazon had something to do with any one of the corporate messes that they have found themselves in over the last ten years, but that is not the reason. In a previous post I figured, through some suspect math, that I spend $700 a year on new Crime Fiction. While this number does not account for used, and rather expensive back catalog books, it is a useful number to understand the Crime Fiction I do buy as a recurring expenditure. $700 is not an insignificant number, and leaving behind Amazon will cost me more money. However, it is an expense I can absorb. [Editor's Note: Full disclosure, Amazon will be necessary for a handful of items. Are those Thomas Mercer books available elsewhere?]
This brings me around to the reason why I am doing this. Condition. During the bulk of my book buying/collecting I was rabid about condition, going so far as to buy the book and read a library copy. Eventually I abandoned that practice primarily for it being overly precious. Reading the books became very much at the core of the whole process of buying and collecting Crime Fiction.
Then two years ago I went to a signing in Los Angeles. It was for the release of SUSPECT by Robert Crais. I got to the store early enough to look over the stack of books to find one in good condition because there was no reason not too. I presented the book to the cashier who gave the book the once over for reasons I can not fathom. She was not checking the price because everyone was there to buy one book, the same book, and I was hardly the first person to do so. After she does this, she rings it up and then sets the book down and grabs another book from the large pile on the shelf behind her and hands me that book.Which of course was dinged on a corner. It marked the bookstore as I have never been back since that night. [Editor's Note: I went to another signing last week actually...it has been a long editing process....] The casualness of the cashier's decision is something I never forgot. Even more mystifying was my acceptance of the situation when I wanted to simply point and say 'Look you clearly don't give damn, but can I have the book I gave you' [Editors Note: If it makes you feel any better this circumstance happened once before and you did ask for the book you picked out...although I think you were slightly calmer about the whole thing than your imagined rejoinder here indicates]. I was reminded instantaneously that the words and the book carry equal weight for me, and that there is no reason to have to choose one over the other. There is nothing wrong with wanting both. It was this realization that forced me to look at 'why' I was doing all of this. Yes it is about about my passion for Crime Fiction, but it is also about my passion for an object.
I could save money going with Amazon, but honestly, the extra money would only finds it way to other books. The secondary outcome here is that buying local will help support the independent bookstore community, so if they benefit from my clearly unstable behavior on this matter then it is a win-win for everyone.
[Editor's Note: See what I mean....]