Buy a book this week.
Buy a physical book in a bricks and mortar bookstore. Why? To keep them there. To make our high streets more interesting. To provide a balance against the tide of coffee bars. To aid discovery. To provide a more stimulating environment when we leave our front doors.
To stop bookshops from fluttering out like so many Kindles in the wind.
If you were out and about this weekend you may have noticed people with white tote bags bearing the bright orange slogan "Books are my bag" over their shoulders. This is the name of an industry-wide campaign, funded by the major publishers and chains like WH Smith and Waterstones, that celebrates physical bookstores.
It will see more than a quarter of a million of these bags distributed to the 1800-plus remaining chain and independent bookstores in the UK between now and Christmas. Celebrities are lending their support by being photographed with the bags too.
It's a good initiative with its heart in the right place, but one must be realistic here. We live in an e-reader and tablet world. Even Waterstones' strategy for survival was to do a deal with Amazon to sell its devices. This is a bit like discovering your partner is having an affair - and then asking them to move in.
Many people complain when "that nice shop that used to be there" closes. But actions have consequences.
If we want physical bookstores to survive we have to use them. Councils should arguably give them reduced rents too, but that is to open a can of worms - the florist et al argues that it provides a service too, why shouldn't it have reduced rents as well, and so on.
As a consumer, some sort of compromise is needed perhaps. Does your every book purchase have to go to Amazon?
Yes, the giant fulfilment centres in Gourock and Dunfermline provide jobs - but do any of the people working there really want their local bookshop to close? So why not buy every other title in a physical bookshop? Or online from Waterstones, which may have a link with Amazon but at least is committed to a high-street presence as well.
Music stores have all but gone. Imagine if bookstores followed them. Our grandchildren might say, as per the song: "And I would have liked to have known you …"
Besides, who likes the smell of an e-reader?
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