Shop at them!
My sweetie's bookstore, Amazon (NOT the web-based bohemouth, but a very cool independent feminist bookstore in Minneapolis) is having its annual Susan B. Anthony sale this weekend. - 20% off and cookies and entertainment to boot. Anyone anywhere near Minneapolis should seriously check it out, though I know it's late notice.
Independent Bookstores are vanishing at an amazing rate. In my own city, we lost The Hungry Mind (Ruminator) a few years ago. Now there are a few "radical" bookstores run by volunteers, a few kids' bookstores, and Amazon. All of those I know about are struggling to keep afloat. A few months ago, M (my sweetie) had the somewhat sad job of calling all of the feminist bookstores that existed in North America a few years ago, and seeing which were still around. The results were not encouraging.
Everytime someone on a quaker list or blog says "this is a great book, get it at Amazon.com" I cringe. It's a little like getting kicked in the stomach.
I think it's one of those ways that I'm surprised and hurt all quakers aren't like me, like some christians are.
For me quaker faith is lived and experienced much in action - it's important how we worship, how we are together, how we seek (and find!) spirit, God. But what drew me to friends is the idea that our lives are lived in God. It's not just what we do at church, but what we do driving (or biking!) to work, what we do at the grocery store, and (is this now too secular?) what we do with our checkbooks (credit cards).
I have never been too big on "charity" (philanthropy) I believe it has its place, but it also finds its foundation in a system of class differences (some people have lots more money than other people, and can choose who of those who need money are deserving) but perhaps that's another entry.
In any case, I therefore find that the ways that we interact directly with the economy of the world around us to be crucial. Every time we spend money we are choosing to do our part to bring about a certain vision of the world. For me that vision is one where everyone earns enough to support themselves and their families, where folks can be proud of the work that they do, where businesses are owned locally (which allows more people the pride of ownership in their own businesses, and allows communities to hold their businesses accountable)
It doesnt' include Walmart (its ugly buildings, its driving-intensive locations, its centralization and distance - both physical and spiritual - between the owners and those they employ and "serve")
It doesnt' include Amazon.com, Borders, Target, or Home Depot either. (all of those commodity needs would be better met, in my opinion, by local booksellers, hardware stores, general stores, pharmacies)
But bookstores are even more a special case. Books are ideas. They are the lifeblood of an educated, informed, involved populace.
When we support huge booksellers, which are primarily (and legally required, if they're publically traded) concerned with profit over all else, we limit our options. There are still a number of small presses in the US (though dwindling as well) - small bookstores buy books from them. They can be bothered. They can respond to individual customers who want those books, and have actual face-to-face relationships with the decision makers at a locally owned bookstore.
Large bookstores already tend not to buy these books. Many to all of their purchasing decisions aer made in a central location by someone who will never see any of the people who buy those books. It's too much of a pain, and why would such a store want to carry a book that challenged, say, capitalism, or corporate structure anyway?
Every time you spend $3 more to buy a book from an independent bookseller, you get a priceless return in terms of a vibrant local economy, diversity, and most importantly, the free flow of ideas.
It's worth it.
this might say parts of it better than I can: