The Internet Defends Independent Bookstores

L. V. Anderson

Earlier this week, Slate technology columnist Farhad Manjoo wrote an essay championing Amazon over local bookstores. Bookstores, according to Manjoo, are “frustrating,” “difficult to use,” and “economically inefficient.” Amazon, on the other hand, has “ignite[d] a national passion for buying, reading, and even writing new books.”

The backlash against Manjoo’s piece was immediate and, in many cases, intensely emotional. (The headline in the New York Observer—“Everybody in New York Hates Slate Reporter Who Complained About Indie Bookstores”—was only somewhat hyperbolic.) Novelist Salman Rushdie, no stranger to criticism himself, tweeted, “Book lovers are ‘cultists’? Maybe, but this man is a moron.” Algonquin Books, an independent publisher, called Manjoo’s piece the “Dumbest article of 2011” (perhaps an allusion to the question Slate posed last week). Slate commenter Alvin Orloff, in the fine tradition of schoolyard taunts, retorted, “Farhad Manjoo is expensive, inefficient, and doesn’t deserve to be saved.”

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