Why we are not Amazon (and why you should care)

Posted by Robert Uebbing on

The other day my wife posted the following testimonial she received from a customer on Instagram:

Anne from Kinderbooks is my go-to children’s literature consultant. Yes, I do call her that over "book seller” because she truly has the most carefully curated selection of children’s books, and I can always rely on her to replenish my classroom’s shelves with quality literature. Kinderbooks only offers books with writing and art that enriches early childhood language and literature experiences, and I love that Anne carries culturally and politically relevant books. From the Rebel Girls series to Indigenous and First Nations selections, I can always count on Kinderbooks for amazing resources and support for my preschool classroom, or my children’s yoga classes. Kinderbooks is less about the books than it is about Anne. SHE IS WONDERFUL! (She even drove 45mins to hand deliver one of my orders!) Now how many children’s book stores will do that for their customers?? :)⠀- Josephine C.,teacher

What struck me is the term "literature consultant" which is a very fitting expression of Anne's role in her business. Having followed Kinderbooks from its inception in 2011 to this day - after all, I have the honor of carrying boxes filled with books and doing some backend computer work - I do have some insights of the philosophy behind the business. We have endless discussions while walking our dog on how to help readers, parents and educators to find the titles that match their needs.

To better understand the idea behind Kinderbooks Anne's and my upbringing played an essential role. We both grew up in the 70s / 80s in Germany with books being ubiquitous. Many ideas and concepts were exchanged through books. Hey, have you read the latest John Irving novel? Here, take my copy of Herman Hesse's Siddharta and let me know what you think. Books were everywhere and wall to wall bookshelves were commonplace. And they were easily accessible in schools, libraries and yes, in bookstores. It seemed that there were bookstores everywhere and everybody who worked in a bookstore seemed to know every book they carried. I was always at awe when being directed to the correct shelf without the need to look up the book in a computer. It may seem that this art is lost due to the rise of Amazon, but there is some evidence that independent bookstores are actually coming back.

For Kinderbooks having a personal relationship with each and every book that it carries is key. Choose any of the 500+ titles that is currently available in the store and Anne will be able to tell you a story about the book. Not only about its content, but also the emotions the book triggers. Not only the recommended age range for the reader, but also the type of child the story may appeal to. Not only the single book, but also which other titles are related and how the dots can be connected. After all, context is key. How does this drawing relate to the story, how does the story relate to the topic, how does this topic relate to the culture and finally how does this culture relate to the world we live in?

While we do not carry a large number of children's books each book was hand picked and, of course, read from cover to cover at least once (usually much more often...) 

And as Anne is an avid reader the selection grows organically.

So why go to an independent book seller? It is quick to find books at online stores by typing in keywords and you will receive the book in a day or two. But is this really the book that you were looking for? If you want meaningful titles ask for help - independent book seller, librarians and other resources will be happy to help you. Anne will engage you in discussions that will gently guide you towards titles you may have never heard about and weren't even on your radar screen.

So, when looking for that special children's book please consider an independent bookseller. They will often go out of their way to find the right book for you and the child.


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