Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Food For Thought Books in the news

Article from the Springfield Republican, featuring our very own Javiera Benavente:

Internet textbook sales slam Pioneer Valley independent bookstores' bottom lines
Monday, November 22, 2010, 5:37 AM

Photo by Jerrey RobertsAMHERST - Since successfully weathering the incursion of big-box booksellers more than a decade ago, independent bookstores have been contending for some time with another threat: the Internet.

Internet textbook sales this fall likely diverted as much as 30 to 40 percent of the business for Food for Thought Books, said Javiera Benavente, one of five worker-owners of the nonprofit progressive bookstore in downtown Amherst. Seventy percent of the store’s business depends on textbook sales to students at the University of Massachusetts Amherst, Amherst College and Hampshire College.

Ironically, a new federal guidance in effect since July 1 - designed to achieve transparency by requiring colleges and universities to post textbook sales information and pricing - may have had an unintended effect: sending students to the Internet to order their textbooks. The new guidance is part of the Higher Education Opportunity Act of 2008....

John H. Bracey Jr., a UMass Amherst professor of Afro-American studies, has been a supporter since Food for Thought started in 1976.

“This is a college town. We have to have art galleries, theaters and bookstores,” he said. “I go just to browse titles, to see what the latest stuff is. Every time I go in there, I buy something. I was brought up thinking books were the most important things you can have. The idea of shutting down Food for Thought and putting in another coffee place, what would that add to the quality of life in the town? We need these kinds of anchors in the community just to keep the thought level up.”

People still need to “read widely and think broadly,” he said. “Food for Thought has been a center for that kind of activity, whether it’s Ecuadorian poetry or sustainable energy.”

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