Saving Your Neighborhood Bookshop By Buying Books

At the Atlantic Cities site, I’ve got a post about an effort underway in my old neighborhood to save a local independent bookshop. Organizers have hit upon two different methods. One is to urge people to sign a petition urging the landlord to reduce the rent, and the other is to urge people to buy books. I argue that people who want neighborhood independent retail need to step up and actually pay the price to keep the businesses they claim to like in business.

I think this is in some ways a bigger deal than it at first appears. In many urban neighborhoods, community groups try to do a sort of central planning of the retail ecology. On the one hand, they don’t want everything to be bars and restaurants. On the other hand, they don’t want everything to be chain stores. It’s fine to have a strong personal preference for non-chain, non-food service business establishments, but when people try to impose that preference through a regulatory preference rather than putting their money where their mouth is, they can create large deadweight losses that seriously damage the local economy.