Ten Reasons to Shop at Waldorf Books
Before we took on the project of managing WaldorfBooks.com I did not realize a lot of the facts on the list below. I purchased my books from Amazon, not realizing the damage it was doing to the book economy and small authors and publishers. I had never sold any retail items before, so I didn’t have a lot of insight. I also didn’t take time to think about how the experience itself shaped my purchase. I would like to share some important things that I have learned since managing Waldorf Books. This experience has changed the way I buy my own books and has made me even more passionate about supporting small booksellers.
Small, Family Owned Bookstore: WaldorfBooks.com has been a small, family owned bookstore since it was first opened by Bob and Nancy over 25 years ago. Angela Guzzo carried on this tradition with her family, and now I carry on this tradition with my family. These kinds of traditions are being lost in our modern society of ‘factory farms’ and ‘online retail warehouses,’ so it feels good to be able to keep this tradition going. It is traditions like this that give a community its heart and soul.
Small Bookstores Nurture the Heart: When Angela first approached us about the bookstore the financial part of the decision did not make a lot of sense. Bookstores are not big income-generators on a small scale, and they take a lot of management. But there is something about carrying on a tradition that has been part of the Waldorf community for so many years that captured our hearts. Not our minds or logic – but our hearts. There is a beauty in carrying on a tradition, and doing the simple work of stocking shelves, touching books, and lovingly wrapping them to send off that just feels
Our Books Carry Positive ‘Emotional Residue’: Emotional residue refers to the belief that emotions experienced by one person in a particular physical environment (or object) leave a trace in that environment (or object) that can affect the emotions of a new person entering that environment (or touching that object), even if that person is unaware of the emotions experienced there previously (Savani, Kumar, Naidu, & Dweck, 2011). Some of you will immediately know what I’m talking about. Have you ever gotten rid of an object because you didn’t want the memories that were ‘attached’ to it? Did you ever get scared watching a horror film about a haunted doll or house.
Many cultures will openly admit this belief. Studies have found, however, that although Americans do not openly admit they believe in ‘emotional residue,’ they often act in ways that show they do. In an article written in Scientific American, the idea of ‘emotional residue’ was explored and was found to have an impact on the feelings of people who lived in a space or interacted with an object (Grewal). We purchase our books directly from the authors or publishers who love them. We do not drop-ship them from another location. And once they arrive, they are lovingly put on shelves that we have set up as a place of beauty. We could have purchased cheap plastic shelves to keep the books on in a closet or storage area but we chose to purchase more expensive and beautiful shelves and make them a daily and beautiful part of the space we work in.
We Support Small Publishers: Most of the publishers we order from are small publishers or the authors themselves. We have had our own experience with publishing through some of our own books, and I can share with you that we make almost nothing when our books are sold on Amazon, at Barnes & Noble, or by other large booksellers. When you purchase directly from us, we can make a small profit on the books we have so lovingly written and published. When you purchase from Amazon, we receive an e-mail from a robot that says something like, ‘your Amazon book funds are being deposited today.’ When we check on the deposit, we find out they are often giving us only 7-15 cents per book on a book that actually has a profit margin of at least $10.00. So where did all that extra money go? I have to admit I am very happy when writing checks to pay for our orders, knowing that the money we send out is going to the actual authors or small publishers themselves.
We Provide a Place for Hard-to-Distribute Titles: Recently we made an order from a small publisher/author/teacher who had a delay in shipping the order to us of about two months. When we asked why, they shared with us that they had actually stopped publishing their books because they no longer had a place where they could sell them! So by purchasing their books again, we were able to keep these books alive.
Each Book is Shipped with Love: We personally ship each book. Some booksellers dropship from Amazon or other locations. When we have ordered from them in the past, the books arrive as if someone has just tossed the book into an envelope and thrown it on a conveyor belt somewhere. The books often arrive damaged or bent. Even when they don’t arrive damaged, the energy I feel when opening the package is one of ‘let’s just get this over with and get to the book.’ When you receive a book from us it is lovingly wrapped, with a free bookmark, and an appropriately sized box is carefully selected depending on the size of your order. We never use padded (soft and bendable) envelopes to ship books.
We Use 100% Recyclable Materials: All of the materials we use are 100% recyclable. We even use paper tape and go to the extra effort of ‘old-school’ dampening to get it to stick to the box just so we can avoid adding more plastic tape into the environment. If you ever receive a box that has bubble wrap in it, it is wrap we have recycled from packages we received and we ask you to continue with the recycling chain.
Good Karma Comes from Happy Workers: We love our books and are happy to send them to you. We smile when we see them and we smile thinking about all the happy homes they are going to. We do this work as a way to nurture our hearts. We love looking at them, reading many of them, and feel a connection with all of them. We take care when placing them on the shelves and when taking them off the shelves. For us the process is like a meditation. In Heroides’ Ovid, Breseis says to Achilles, “A few of these lines are blurred by falling tears, Tears which are as heavy as my words.” When we send a book, we hope that its lines are filled with clarity and joy from our smiles.
You are Supporting a Small Business: The benefits of supporting a small business are many. When you purchase from a small business you are supporting innovation, community well-being, entrepreneurship, environmental sustainability, and product diversity.
Our Profits Go to Good Places: Did you ever think about where the money you spend goes once it leaves your hands? Are you paying for a company CEO to sail their yacht into the Caribbean or are you paying for someone to give that money to a local farmer or worker to feed their family? At Waldorf Books our money goes back to other independent business owners, co-workers who are paid $15.00 an hour, and even the local farmer’s market to support small farms.
Savani, K., Kumar, S., Naidu, N. V. R., & Dweck, C. S. (2011). Beliefs about emotional residue: The idea that emotions leave a trace in the physical environment. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 101, 684-701. doi:10.1037/a0024102
Grewal, Daisy (2011). Exploring the Science of Emotions. Scientific American