Some small shops need to remember smaller doesn’t automatically equal better.
There’s a lot of talk these days about the giant chain stores coming in and killing small, independent businesses. Sure, I feel for a number of them, but the fact is some seem to think being the local guy is enough to draw customers. I like to shop local when I can, but sometimes they make it difficult.
Our local grocery store is a good example: their aisles are tiny and cramped, their selection is poor, they have very little produce, and their prices are high. When a long-time manager retired recently, the local newspaper ran an article about his tenure and touched on the success or failure of small stores. He said “We may not have all the products you want, and we may not have the best prices, but we’re there for you.”
Really? In what way? Selection and price are all I want. I don’t go shopping for pleasant conversation.
I got to thinking about all this yesterday when I needed some plumbing hardware in an emergency. Unfortunately the local guy closes early on Sunday, so I went just a few miles farther to Menard’s. It’s not the first time it happened, and I had the same problem with the local hardware store near our last home. And heck, the grocery store up there was even worse.
How can I support them when they can’t support me? Even leaving price out of the equation now that gas costs are way up, it would still help if they stocked what I needed and were open when I needed it.
I see similar problems (and attitudes) in the small press.
I totally understand the desire to publish books the major houses won’t touch, but rebellion alone isn’t going to close the sale. When I see bad copy on websites or Amazon product descriptions, why should I think the book itself will be handled any better? If a publisher is going to make it difficult for me to purchase the book, why shouldn’t I just click over to Amazon and buy something else? If a publisher can’t show good taste in cover design, why should I trust their judgement on the manuscript?
Don’t get me wrong, I love small presses. Hell, that’s where all my work is published. I’ll cheer for David up against Goliath every time.
But if you’re going to be David, you better have more than a pile of shit in your sling.