A Lawrence bookstore’s fight against Amazon draws the attention of The New Yorker

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Lawrence, Kansas as seen from the air/iStock

Nothing can beat the feeling of going into a bookstore, browsing the aisles, and finding a book that you can take home with you that day.

The Raven Bookstore in Lawrence offers just that. But, as The New Yorker wrote about over the weekend, The Raven is also leading the charge to encourage people to break free from Amazon and invest in local businesses. The story was widely shared, drawing national attention to Lawrence’s “free state” vibe.

“The argument most often mounted in defense of retailers such as Walmart and Amazon is that by keeping prices low they are serving customers, including those who can’t afford to pay more,” New Yorker writer Casey Cep remarks. “However, that is a shortsighted and simplistic account of these companies’ economic impact. Caine sees the limits of that logic in his own community, where big businesses’ profits are privatized but costs are socialized. ‘Tax breaks, corporate welfare—we make it so much easier for Amazon to just grow and grow, and yes, the prices are lower, but we’re paying for those in so many other ways with our tax dollars.’”

As the story notes, The Raven’s owner Danny Caine advertises that he sells his books at a higher price than Amazon because the books are worth the price he sells them at—and, with higher prices, he is able to pay his employees and cover the store’s utility costs. The money that the store generates then stays in Lawrence. With jobs harder to find and poverty increasing, Caine urges people to shop locally and resist big companies like Amazon. Even if it may seem cheaper now, buying items locally at a slightly higher cost will save you in the long run.

Caine’s mission, he tells The New Yorker, is “about getting the word out to customers. It’s not that we’re anti-Amazon, but we’re pro-bookstores and pro-community.”

“I really just want people to think about where they’re spending their money, and why,” he told The New Yorker.

Read the piece here.

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