How to Buy Books

posted on
February 5th, 2010
written by
reading, the industry

You know what I love about shopping at my local independent book store? I go in there, and they know me. Okay, yes, part of that is because I’m an author and they are nice to authors, but when I go into Sam Weller’s or The King’s English and hang out awhile, it’s obvious that they know their other regulars, too. I know this doesn’t only happen at indies. I used to work at a little Crown Books in Daly City back when Crown Books used to be the biggest chain there was, and we knew our regulars, too, and could make recommendations and chit-chat and otherwise engage in human interaction not based on a five-star rating system or anonymous usernames.

Full disclosure: I have spent plenty of money on books at Amazon over the years, but have tapered off considerably after getting into the book business and understanding more about it. Lately I only resort to it when I need a hard to find book ASAP. But since the Macmillan debacle, and the letter from Amazon about it that felt…well, it felt hostile, frankly…I’m done with that, and keeping my Amazon purchases to blender replacement parts, the vacuum filters my hardware store doesn’t carry, and random medical supplies. Now, in saying that, I’m not berating anyone who chooses to buy books from the big A. I understand that sometimes convenience and pricing are the difference between you buying a book and not buying a book, and if you live in the boonies with no good library and you have to buy everything you want to read, it’s challenging to go indie. And, I bet that at some point in the future I will wind up clicking the buy button of a book (assuming it’s there), myself. But by shifting even 25% of your purchasing dollars to local stores, you’ll help keep the personal, human, passionate bookselling business—and the real people who make it happen—alive.

Anyway, speaking of Sam Weller’s, right now they are having a pretty fantastic sale for in-store customers—it goes through tomorrow the 6th. 50% off used (!), 25% off new, 30% off rare. Some restrictions. There is also chocolate. So if you’re in the SLC, go down there and show Catherine and Tony and the crew some love. Heck, you can even do that when there’s not a sale. All the better. To make it even more convenient, TRAX stops right at their front door, and there are two bars and a coffee shop and some restaurants on the same block, so you can eat, drink, and buy books all in one delightful outing. (All right, yes, sometimes you go downtown on Sunday or a weeknight and things are shuttered, but that seems to be changing. I am seriously hoping this “downtown rising” thing works out, because I live within walking distance of downtown and having it actually…rise…would make living here longterm so much more enticing.)

Here’s my haul from yesterday, a mix of new and used, and not counting the four books I have on order (you know you can order books through your local store if you don’t see them in stock, right?). The wrapped one (expertly, and for free by SW staff) is a top secret gift, obviously:

Coming on the blog next week: interview with Matt de la Peña, in which we talk about the wonderful We Were Here and other writery stuff. You’re gonna like it.

Have a great weekend! Go…Saints?

Make a note of it:


  • E. Kristin Anderson (Emily) - February 5, 2010 at 1:40 pm -

    Hi Sara! I’m so with you on this one — brick and mortar stores make book shopping way more fun and interesting. We need to keep them alive by actually shopping local!

    I think you’ll really love Hero-Type. It really hit me in all the right places when I read it. I still think about it over a year later. So awesome!

  • Maryam - February 5, 2010 at 2:17 pm -

    I love to see people, and especially authors, talking about indie bookstores. I work at an independent bookstore and it’s so much fun to see the “regulars” come into the store especially when we’ve been waiting to recommend a new book that came in or something similar. In fact, if it weren’t for someone I work with, I would not have known about your books.
    I haven’t read any of the books in the picture, but I’ve heard good things about Hero-Type, and I hope you like the books!

  • Paul Greci - February 5, 2010 at 5:41 pm -

    The owner and employees of our independent bookstore know me, and a lot of other regulars. I love going into Gullivers. They have both new and used books. They’ve opened a cafe on the second floor. It’s a cool place to be. I try to get most of my books from them but sometimes I end up ordering online depending on the circumstances. They are the greatest!

  • Debbie - February 5, 2010 at 5:59 pm -

    I love buying books from The King’s English. It’s a bit of a drive, but they have an excellent online store and even if they don’t have it in stock in the store, they can still ship it to you. I bought all my books for Christmas that way.

    Also, sorry for bugging you so much about the workshop this summer! I figured everything out and I’m going to be in your class. :)

  • Debbie/Cranberry Fries - February 5, 2010 at 10:54 pm -

    My friends and I were just discussing that we only knew of one indie store here in Utah. I’m glad to hear of another one and will certainly show my love by stopping by sometime soon! I loved this post and completely agree.

  • Laura - February 6, 2010 at 10:31 am -

    I loved Someday This Pain Will Be Useful To You–it’s written brilliantly.

  • Catie S - February 6, 2010 at 10:38 am -

    I may use the sale as an excuse to go downtown. My Dad always goes on about Sam Weller’s, but I’ve never actually been inside. I think its about time I fixed that.
    I love The King’s English. I don’t think I’ve walked in & not been welcomed warmly.
    I very rarely buy things from Amazon. If I buy a book online, it most often comes from Barnes & Noble.
    I love that The King’s English is so close to me.

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    Buy Online

    By special arrangement with my local independent book store, The King’s English, you can always find signed copies of my novels there.

    If you’re not local, you can order signed copies from them and have them shipped and, if you like, gift wrapped. Also, if you’d like me to personalize a signed copy, we can make that happen.

    And, of course, anywhere books are sold.