Customers entering Collected Works Bookstore & Coffeehouse in Santa Fe, New Mexico, this week are being greeted by a full-size, laminated display of the Authors United ad that ran in the New York Times on Sunday, August 10.
The two-page spread, which was coordinated by Santa Fe author Douglas Preston, called on Amazon to settle its months-long dispute with Hachette Book Group over e-book pricing without further harm to the authors and customers that are caught in the middle. “Amazon has been boycotting Hachette authors,” the Authors United letter said, “by refusing to accept pre-orders on Hachette authors’ books and e-books,” “slowing the delivery of thousands of Hachette authors’ books to Amazon customers,” and other actions. The letter also asked readers to write to Amazon’s CEO, Jeff Bezos, to share their thoughts about the issue and provided Bezos’ e-mail address.
The letter was signed by more than 900 authors, including Donna Tartt, Malcolm Gladwell, Lemony Snicket, Nora Roberts, and Stephen King. Several of the more successful authors agreed to pay for the $104,000 ad, the Times reported.
“We are exceedingly proud that great, local Santa Fe, New Mexican, and Southwest authors are represented on that letter,” said Collected Works co-owner Dorothy Massey. “It really doesn’t matter which side you’re on as long as you understand what is happening, and I think a lot of people don’t understand what is happening to communities, families, and local taxes — and to booksellers and book publishers.”
To foster conversations with customers, Collected Works co-owner Mary Wolf also created a “Fire Phone free zone” window cling, which is hung at all four of the bookstore’s entrances. Wolf was inspired to create the cling, said Massey, based on “Mr. Bezos’ launch of the [Amazon] Fire Phone and his encouragement to his customers to use retail stores of whatever variety — books, electronics, shoes, appliances — as his catalog.” The idea for the cling also stemmed from those displayed by some area businesses to request that firearms be kept off the premises.
As competition with Internet book retailers has increased, Collected Works staff has seen customers come in to browse inventory, make note of ISBNs, and later purchase books online. When this is observed, booksellers at the store use the opportunity to gently educate the customer. “We try to explain, in a kindly fashion, what a brick-and-mortar store is about as opposed to an online sale,” said Massey.
The “Fire Phone Free Zone” window cling is designed to be discreet — just 3¼ by 5 inches — and isn’t intended to ban customers who are carrying the Fire Phone from the store. “I wouldn’t ask a customer to keep a Fire Phone off the premises, I would simply underline the fact that it was not to be brought out and used,” said Massey. “We don’t encourage people to use cell phones of any variety because of the noise factor. We maintain a very quiet, peaceful store.”
Massey and Wolf welcome inquiries from fellow booksellers at email@example.com.