In today’s issue of Shelf-Awareness, Hachette’s CEO Michael Pietsch was quoted as offering thanks to booksellers for their support during their difficulties with Amazon.

This section sign says it perfectly: we can work together and all support readers and writers.

This section sign says it perfectly: we can work together and all support readers and writers.

While some may say that indie booksellers had good reason to support Hachette since Amazon has taken every opportunity to drive out bricks-and-mortar bookstores by selling popular books below their cost and significantly discounting for years, the motivation is actually much more basic: this kind of bullying behavior has been foreign to the book business … until Amazon gained substantial power.

Independent booksellers have weathered much during the last three decades: the growth of big box stores, Amazon’s relentless discounting to drive out competition, an economic crisis, the acceptance of e-reading devices and the growth of various platforms for electronic reading. Indies are a tenacious and values-driven group. They are still alive and speaking up for what is right and fair and good for society.

For many of us in business for ourselves, it’s the only way we know how to participate in a collective effort that centers on literacy, lifelong learning, and living an honorable life.

I marvel at American booksellers for their tenacity and I envy European booksellers for the support they get from their countries.

From big box stores to Amazon, they’ve stuck to their principles even when predatory pricing presents tremendous hurdles to sustainability. Today’s op-ed piece in The New York Times by Pamela Druckerman offers a perspective for American reader on just how some European countries are supporting their locally owned bookshops for the sake of “biblio diversity.”

The Watermill in Aberfeldy, Scotland offers a beautiful selection of books and great service ... and fabulous coffee too.

The Watermill in Aberfeldy, Scotland offers a beautiful selection of books and great service … and fabulous coffee too.

First, countries have witnessed there’s a lot to be lost when mega corporations sell below cost for the sole purpose of driving out competition:

“The French secret is deeply un-American: fixed book prices. Its 1981 ‘Lang law,’ named after former Culture Minister Jack Lang, says that no seller can offer more than 5 percent off the cover price of new books. That means a book costs more or less the same wherever you buy it in France, even online.”

Yes, books are protected because they are not “potatoes”. Books are ideas. Putting ideas into the hands of just a few corporations is scary.

Placing a cap on discounting limits predatory pricing as a competitive advantage. This is a game-changer. and provides a different dynamic for European booksellers and readers. This supports small business. It also says books and ideas are valued.

In the U.S. we have to continue to out-smart and out-wit the mega corporations by changing the rules of the game and competing on ways that are local, authentic, human, and about the in-person experience.