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LETTERS IN VIEW : Communities Can Lose Out When Greedy Book Giants Come In

June 21, 1993

I was concerned and moved by your story on the threat to small bookstores by greedy giants ("Chain Reaction," May 24). I was reminded of the loss of my father's fruit and vegetable store when I was 12. The supermarkets were just arriving and King Kullen (now defunct) had moved in on the opposite corner, its movie house-like marquee dominating the block.

It was sad, the loss of that musty old store. And I believe my father's customers were saddened, too, though economics pretty much carried the day. The neighborhood became a little more distant and unknowable. So it will be if small booksellers succumb to these literary Wal-Marts.

Los Angeles--a city with one classical and one jazz radio station, one and one-half newspapers and precious few theaters not dedicated to Schwarzenegger--cannot afford to give up the stimulation of the corner bookstore. Neither, of course, can other cities targeted by the behemoths. But L.A. is already too few steps removed from the desert to tolerate this threat.

ALLAN RABINOWITZ

Los Angeles

*

"The diversity of American books may hang in the balance," Josh Getlin writes in his story about the war between independent local bookstores and large chains.

How right he is. Independent bookstores, such as Dutton's, Vroman's, Book Soup and Chevalier, take chances on unknown local publishers. They help small presses grow because they see the validity of books that are not sure-fire bestsellers yet appeal to a significant percentage of their book-buying public.

Find me a mega-bookstore manager with the authority to say the sweet words Doug Dutton said to me several weeks ago: "We'll take 18 copies and make it cash on delivery. I know small presses need the money."

ELLEN HOFFS

Angel City Press

Santa Monica

*

While I sympathize with the position of Earthling Books, it is time for Penny Davies to stop complaining and get on with business.

Earthling Books is a very fine bookstore; it has consistently presented the people of Santa Barbara with a wide selection and a pleasant atmosphere in which to browse and purchase books--at full retail.

Barnes and Noble recently opened a store several blocks away from Earthling Books. That store also presents Santa Barbara with a wide selection and a pleasant atmosphere in which to browse and purchase books--at a discounted price.

Davies complains that the competition presented is unfair and implies that the City of Santa Barbara should have prevented Barnes and Noble from infringing on what she apparently perceives as her exclusive territory.

MARK L. SILLS

Santa Barbara

*

I am outraged to read that Tom Christopher, head of Barnes and Noble super stores division, justifies his corporation's greedy actions as typifying "normal American competition." Placing a megalithic chain book outlet on the same street as a community bookstore purposely to usurp the latter's market is hardly comparable to one more showroom on Automobile Row.

Neighborhood spirit, independence of literary thought and a lifestyle which supports human connectedness and decency are priceless. I, for one, will boycott all Barnes and Noble outlets until they find suitable, life-sustaining, Earth-enhancing business ventures.

PENELOPE YOUNG ANDRADE

San Diego

Story Drove Home Gender Stereotypes

As a teen-age girl, I was offended by your article, "Young Women's Voices Tell Old, Old Story" (May 23). The article portrays men as the villains and young women as innocent bystanders.

(The story says) Tiffany had a party and she stated, "Everyone was saying, 'Go ahead.' " I don't understand. Did she walk around asking people's opinions first?

And as for Jackie, any 16-year-old should know what's on her boyfriend's mind when they agree to go to a hotel together on prom night.

MORGAN COHEN

Sepulveda

You Left Out a Point: BMWs Just Cost More

In "A Lusty V-8 And Lots More" ("Behind the Wheel," May 28), Paul Dean exalts in the glories of the BMW 540i, singing the praises of "pimples and dimples"--the Braille-type markings on the window switches--as indicators of the superiority of this car.

My 1991 Chrysler Imperial has "pimples and dimples" on all but one window switch, the one that controls the driver's window, and it has a tab that makes it impossible to miss that control, even in haste and darkness.

In addition, the door lock switches have the same symbols. Dean is right, such details do indicate a fascinating car, one that is roomy, smooth riding, economical (I averaged 25 mpg on a recent 8,000-mile cross-country trip) and fast enough to get a ticket in any of the 25 states we traveled in.

And the price tag was about half the BMW 540i's.

NORBERT E. TALBERT

Diamond Bar

*

You left out two major points about the new BMW 540i.

1. For $50K, you ought to get a passenger-side air bag.

2. BMWs enjoy a resale value slide, bettered only by Audi.

In all other respects, it is a great car.

LANCE A. ITO

Pasadena

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