I Canceled My Amazon Order so I Could Buy the Books at My Local Independent Bookstore

A true story.


I need to add one more purchase to this weekend’s spending estimate: paperback copies of Jane Smiley’s Last Hundred Years trilogy.

The shortest version of this story is that I held off reading Smiley’s trilogy—which was being published while I was drafting my own novels about a family in rural America in the recent past, so I didn’t want to read it until I was done—and then I got the books from the library and realized almost immediately that they were some of the best books I had read in forever, exactly my aesthetic in terms of language and narrative structure, and that I needed to own the trilogy, on paper, so I could go back through the thousands of pages and study how they were put together.

(Yes, I know. NERD.)

So I hopped on to Amazon and was delighted to see that they were selling the paperbacks for $6, $9, and $10 respectively. I don’t think I’ve been able to buy a new paperback for $6 since the days of the Scholastic Book Fair. I popped ’em in my cart and placed the order.

Then I thought “Wait a minute. These paperbacks are going to take two days to get here, and you could walk to your local independent bookstore and have them tomorrow evening. Plus, you’d be supporting your local independent bookstore.”

To which I replied, to myself, “BUT SIX DOLLARS.”

And then I told myself that supporting the bookstore in my neighborhood, at which I have attended multiple events and gotten to read some of my own work, was way more important than paying just $6 for a paperback.

So I canceled the Amazon order.

Which means I get to walk to the bookstore tonight, which I am very excited about, in addition to being able to walk back via the grocery store and get my shopping done, and probably a bottle of wine, and when I realized that this post would definitely count as part of The Billfold’s I Want It Now series, I also noticed that I Want It Now acronyms to “IWIN” or I win.


But I think my local independent bookstore is the real winner here. I mean, also me and my bottle of wine and probably Jane Smiley and Knopf Doubleday, there are a lot of winners. Even Amazon wins, or will win in the future, because I still buy everything that isn’t within walking distance from them. Maybe everybody wins, just because I wanted something now.

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