Three Links for Independence

(1) The Abbey Bookshop in Paris, France is mad as hell, and they aren't going to take it anymore.  Amazon, as you know, is a world-wide company. As such, it is also a world-wide threat to small businesses, whether it be an independent bookstore in Oakland or Oostend. Which is why we're so very enthusiastic about the Abbey Bookshop's recent "Pledge of the Independents": "In an effort to preserve the free and widest circulation of information and ideas, as well as the diversity, vitality and integrity of an increasingly uncompetitive and dehumanized book-trade, I pledge to buy my books mostly from independent bookshops, and above all without resorting to Amazon or its affiliates.

From their press release:

"Taking the 'Pledge of Independents' means spurning books from Amazon or its affiliates, and preferring independent bookshops over other suppliers. In return, customers will receive from the bookshop the maximum allowable discount on book purchases (5%), other concessions, and assistance in finding alternatives to Amazon.

City-hall statistics (see http://www.semaest.fr/) confirm Paris’ Latin Quarter has lost more than half its bookshops over the last 25 years. We are losing more than just neighborhood businesses and personal service, the greatest threat of Amazon’s near monopoly is the risk to our freedom of expression: already accused of tax optimization and degrading labor practices in Europe, Amazon is now also blocking sales of major publishers’ books (see recent dispute with Hachette U.S.). Cornering the market on selling cameras and clothes is one thing; controlling access to the printed word is another. We have arrived at an alarming point: authors and publishers are afraid to even speak out about Amazon because of their fears of reprisals.

Amazon’s prices come with a social, cultural, and fiscal cost. Now is the right time to act."

Liberté, Fratérnité, Egalité, mon amis.

(2) Javier Marias, one of Spain's most beloved authors, has seven very interesting reasons not to write a novel, and one very good reason to do so. All of which makes me wonder about the possibility of a similar piece about reading them. 

"Earlier, I said that fiction is the most bearable of worlds, because it offers diversion and consolation to those who frequent it, as well as something else: in addition to providing us with a fictional present, it also offers us a possible future reality. And although this has nothing to do with personal immortality, it means that for every novelist there is the possibility— infinitesimal, but still a possibility— that what he [sic] is writing is both shaping and might even become the future he [sic] will never see."

(3) Argentina's César Aira is like very few. Defying convention with each new book and embracing new forms at every turn, he is a store favorite. This interview with Peter Adolphsen at the Louisiana Literature Festival is a wonderful introduction.