2008-02-25

lefty says sad, yuppie be shameful

Now, I don't actually shop at Greenwoods, but learning one of Edmonton's independent bookstores is closing its doors is always sad.

It's also hypocritical to get too upset about it, lefty or not. I must confess I'm a Chapters shopper.

Yes, I make the random trip into Audreys, and I check the offerings at Wee Book Inn at least once a week (because who doesn't love used classic books? and why pay full price when you know there are 1,000 copies of Jane Eyre floating around out there?).

In Ottawa, I positively lived off Perfect Books. When I lived there, I honestly did not shop for books anywhere else. Even after I moved away, staff at the bookstore remembered me for the weekends I would come back to visit my brother and his partner and drag them to the store. After an hour, Mike and Sarah would wait -- slightly irritated but patient because I was a guest -- by the door while I did my best to fill up the regular customer card that could land me with five, 10 and 25 per cent off my more expensive purchases.

But here in Edmonton, I'm a Chapters girl. It's so sad, eh? I don't know what's happened to me. I feel like I accidentally bought into Tom Hanks in You've Got Mail, where he explains people want good books and good coffee and they want it cheap. Is that what I want? I'm not sure.... I like that Chapters has more choice than anywhere else. I like my discounts (how embarrassing) and I like sipping a Starbucks coffee (gawd, I sound like such a yuppie), and I like listening to the banter of idiots.

Yes, you read that correctly.

Do you think anyone wanders into a place like Greenwoods asking if the staff have ever heard of "Bronty"? Or asking if they've maybe got the book based on the movie "There Will Be Blood?" I don't think so. Classy independent bookstores do not draw morons, they draw snobs. And snobs are not funny (unless they are wearing berets). And on a Sunday afternoon when I want coffee and the New York Times and a game of Cranium and an environmentally-friendly shopping bag and the fastest-possible access to the latest Sophie Kinsella novel, I also want to be peripherally entertained by stupid people.

All of this makes me a bad person.

2 comments:

erin said...

I didn't know that Greenwoods is closing, but it's actually not as book-snob as you think... I shop there (mostly to spite Chapters, evil empire that they are). Greenwoods also has frequent buyer cards, no coffee, but awesome staff, far more knowledgable than the preteens at Chapters, and will order things in for you... you should check it out before it goes.

Tejpal said...

I don't shop at Chapters for political reasons (they won't carry certain titles, support of Israeli apartheid), but mostly because they squeeze out the local, independent stores. You're dead on about the entertainment value of Chapters shoppers, so it's worth a browse. But Starbucks coffee is foul, filthy stuff. Their drip coffee is burnt and their "specialty" coffee is little more than hot milkshakes.

When I discovered Audrey's, the move to Edmonton suddenly became easier. When I discovered the abundance of very good used bookstores, I became even happier. Sure, they're havens of snobs and pseudo intellectuals, but they are cheap, the staff is knowledgeable, and I get the perhaps mistaken satisfaction of supporting the little guy.

This all said, I still shop at amazon.ca. Can't avoid all the trappings of yuppie-dom.