A recent informal survey showed that many bookstores around the country have changed their approaches to author talks. Some stores now charge for admission to events, allowing a customer to apply the ticket fee to the purchase of a book. More and more indies are refusing to permit customers to get books signed that weren’t purchased in the store.
The reason for such policies is obvious: It takes a staff and other resources to host in-store events, and it’s the sale of books—or the revenue from tickets—that must cover the costs. If an independent bookstore is providing events as part of its mission to build community, why should anonymous, distant Amazon or a big chain profit from all of the indie’s work?
Politics & Prose has long resisted charging admission for events or requiring customers to buy books for signings. And we have no plans to change this approach. We’re fortunate that the vast majority of people who shop at P&P and attend P&P events are deeply loyal to the store and to the idea of buying local and sustaining community-based institutions.
Yet we’re occasionally reminded—as we were last week when a gentleman stood in line to get signed a book he had purchased on Amazon—that some customers are not aware why it matters to buy local. Yes, the book may be cheaper elsewhere. But bricks-and-mortar stores like P&P offer programs that enable customers to meet authors, receive personal advice from expert staff, take classes with others in their communities, and join public book groups.
We hope never to have to change our policy of free events or to start policing where books signed by authors at our events were purchased. In the meantime, we thank all of you who are customers and who make what may at times even be an extra effort to get books from us and other independents. We thank all of you who do so much to support your local bookstore and your community by purchasing your books at P&P, becoming a member of the store, and participating in our many programs and events.
- Brad and Lissa