Rebuttal to Recent Letters to the Editor, Davis Enterprise

Dear Editor,

First I'm a whiner. Now I'm one of the anti-capitalist, anti-free enterprise cartel members who are trying to stop Borders from coming to Davis and, thus, denying citizens their constitutional right to book discounts. The hysterical, accusatory tone of two letters this week begs to be answered.

  • Accusation #1: Independent bookstores in Davis are afraid of competition and are, therefore, unAmerican.

  • Response #1: We have been competing in Davis for 10 years. We welcome bookstores (even chains) of a size some where on the scale of other stores in the downtown. This category killer, Borders, will be seven times the size of The Next Chapter. We cannot compete with a chain of that magnitude -- indeed, we'll be relocating to another community if Borders arrives. The only independents that have survived in this scenario are very large or very rich. We are neither. But we are American, and we have been competing.

  • Accusation #2: We are gouging the citizens of Davis.

  • Response #2: The economics of the book world do not allow us to discount. Chains can afford to discount because they are given preferential, sometimes illegal terms by publishers and distributors and they deal in huge volumes. Our net profit is on average with the book industry numbers, yet my husband and I, together, take home less in a year than the average Davis teacher salary.

Why stay in such an unlucrative enterprise? Why fight to keep Borders out of Davis and, if we succeed, continue in this very low-profit endeavor?

The first answer is that we love books, our job, and our store.

The second answer is the numbers of dedicated, loyal customers who have asked us to fight for the right to stay in this community.

I certainly don't deny that part of our struggle is motivated by self-interest -- we don't want to leave town. The rest of the answer involves customers who have become family. I don't have a lot of direct contact with people who welcome Borders to Davis, but I realize that they exist. I ask that they try to understand that more than 3,500 people have signed a petition asking for some kind of retail other than a Borders superstore ... many of these petition-signers see the value of independent bookstores and know, as we owners do, that chains and independents don't co-exist for long. The choice is between one or the other ... not both.

Mark Friedman's claim that Borders will enhance the bookstore scene and help our businesses is simply not true.

Incidentally, unlike our good friend Bob Dunning, we bookstore owners don't have the option to sue for loss of income, stress, pain and anguish when we get forced out of our jobs.

In the last analysis, I have a hard time identifying myself or any other store owners involved in this battle in the descriptions found in these recent letters. I'd be happy to speak directly to anyone about this issue -- stop by the store.

Vicky Panzich
The Next Chapter
225 G Street

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