Here in Auckland there is a wonderful independent bookstore that specialises in SF/Fantasy and Romance, especially books imported from the US, called Barbara’s Books.
I can’t remember when I first discovered Barbara and Peter Clendon and their wonderful store and mail-order business. I do know that they’ve moved location three times since then and I’ve bought an awful lot of books. I’ve also happily introduced a number of fellow readers to the shop (aka luring them to the dark side). If I had to make a guess, I’d say I’ve been a customer for the better part of 20 years.
But there’s a problem. I just don’t buy much in paper any more. Therefore I don’t buy much from Barbara’s any more. I feel terribly guilty about it. I really like Peter and Barbara and I don’t want them to go out of business, but they no longer stock the format I want to purchase.
So whenever I can justify it, I order from them. Often it’s a book I want in hardcover as well as the ebook I’m buying to read. Hardcovers are terribly expensive here (I could get them cheaper from The Book Depository), but since I only buy a few a year, I try to buy them from Barbara’s to continue to support the shop and can justify the cost because it’s not something I’m doing weekly, or even monthly.
And if I get the chance, I take my friends. Whenever anyone who is a SFF or Romance reader comes to visit, I take them to Barbara’s Books. A friend was up visiting this last weekend (someone I had already introduced to the shop’s mailing list) and off we went to buy books. Dave and Marcus sat in the car in the rain (they both had books of their own to read) while we browsed. Alison ended up buying over $200 worth of books (which at New Zealand prices is sadly still only 10 books). I’m feeling a lot less guilty this week.
It’s really hard, balancing between wanting to support good people (I have often called Barbara my “pusher” and I can walk around my library and blame many, many, many purchases on her) and buying what I want as a consumer. The world of books is changing and it’s going to be a very interesting ride.
If you’re in New Zealand and buy Science Fiction, Fantasy or Romance in paper, do consider Barbara and Peter. They’re up to date and knowledgeable and really good book people.