Everybody in New York Hates Slate Reporter Who Complained About Indie Bookstores

134029815 Everybody in New York Hates Slate Reporter Who Complained About Indie Bookstores

What, you don't like this?

This morning, a writer named Farhad Manjoo wrote an article for Slate called “Don’t Support Your Local Bookseller.” Mr. Manjoo called your local independent booksellers the “least efficient, least user-friendly, and most mistakenly mythologized local establishments you can find.”

He goes on: “As much as I despise some of its recent tactics, no company in recent years has done more than Amazon to ignite a national passion for buying, reading, and even writing new books.” He calls the selection at any bookstore “paltry” in comparison, and wonders why anyone would want to know what bookstore employees suggest one read when there’s an algorithm to do it “based on others you’ve read.” Bookstores, he explains, are “economically inefficient.”

Unleash the fury of New York City! On Twitter, Sasha Frere-Jones asked Mr. Manjoo what he thought of a recent investigative story about the working conditions inside Amazon warehouses. Emily Gould, proprietor of Emily Books, called the article “ragebait.” Indie publisher Algonquin Books named it “Dumbest article of 2011.” Riverhead publisher Geoff Kloske comments,  “In Slate @fmanjoo appears not to realize that self publishing has been around for awhile. Doesn’t realize that e ‘singles’ predated amazon.” Independent bookseller Dustin Kurtz does a play-by-play excoriation.


Anyway, if you want to read something more amusing in Slate today, try “The Best Dismissive Replies by Literary Heavyweights.” It might prove useful.


  1. People are SO obsessed with small independent bookstores, you might as well be in favor of murdering kittens as say anything bad about an independent bookstore.

    This situation calls for an address to the people.

    PEOPLE OF THE INTERNET: Please, the man just doesn’t like indie bookstores. They’re not his thing. I don’t like Earl Grey tea either, it’s just not my thing. I hope I would be allowed to say that on the internet without being hollered at. I probably like things you don’t like, but I promise not to complain if you say so on the internet. I think if we all step back and think about this, we can agree that this person should be allowed to express his feelings without censure.

    1. julie says:

      You don’t like Earl Grey? Blasphemy! Sorry, couldn’t resist. But I also think considering the outrage that the guy works at Slate, it’s sort of his job to sometimes have a controversial opinion and get people talking.

      1. Jon Konnu says:

        “But I also think considering the outrage that the guy works at Slate [who is an Amazon affilate],
        it’s sort of his job to [act like a slavish lapdog].”

        fixed that for you.

    2. steve says:

      I’ve not heard anyone arguing for censure. Indeed, it would rob of us of the opportunity to disabuse you, Mr Fanjoo and his other apologists of some important facts. I’ve no idea what “cultish, moldering” burb Fanjoo calls home, but I’ve never been in an indie bookstore in New York that fits this description. Moreover, his article is deliberately obnoxious. He didn’t say he preferred Amazon; he attacked those who preferred other sources, other experiences. If anyone’s trying to censure here, it’s Fanjoo himself. If he–and you–can’t take the response, perhaps you should go back to your Amazon warehouse. I’m guessing they have some sort of dusty box for you to sit on while you read.

      1. So you can see what I’m saying! Go back and read your comment, as it proves my point precisely. I didn’t say anything bad about indie bookstores, but I did note that somehow when indie bookstores are up for discussion otherwise cool-headed people on the internet lose their shit and write vitriolic, crazy-person attacks, as quoted in the article above. Your comment started out cool enough, telling me that you’ve “not heard anyone arguing for censure” (no problem, I guess you didn’t read the article above). But then, paraphrasing a xenophobic slur, you told me to “go back to [my] Amazon warehouse!” I guess that isn’t censure, since it’s actually just verbal abuse?

        For the record I live in Brooklyn, and I only go to indie bookstores.

    3. creaves says:

      But you didn’t write an editorial all about how stupid and inefficient Earl Grey tea is, and then suggest that your readers drink your far more efficient and magical affiliate, English Breakfast, instead. 

  2. monkeyread says:

    he has a right to his opinion. he also has an obligation to get the facts correct. especially when you consider he wrote a book about the topic. he could use a better understanding of capitalism and choice.

  3. Anonymous says:

    I used to own an independent bookstore, and I agree with Mr. Manjoo. Not everybody lives in New York City. I live in the Highlands of Scotland. My nearest bookstore (an indie) is over 20 miles away, is tiny, and while it’s very friendly, rarely has what I’m looking for. I just order used paperbacks off either Amazon or Ebay (since Ebay lets me pay with Paypal.) I’m not going to burn litres of petrol in order to pay twice as much for a book just to support a small business.

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