Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Yelp and the Power of Proactive Positivity

My Dear Reader,

I like saying nice things to people.

And I don't know If you've picked up on this, but I like books a lot. (I've tried to be subtle.)

You know what else I like? Independent book stores. So I'm going to say some nice things about those for a bit.

You have to understand that I'm a capitalist. I don't hate businesses based on their size. The computer I'm writing this post on is made by one of the bigger businesses out there, and I'm so glad that so many people were employed in order to get this computer to me. Truly.

But here's the thing: independent bookstores are better.

The reason is actually very simple. Big bookstores are typically staffed by people who are just there to get a paycheck while they're trying to find something better. Independent bookstores are staffed by people who love the living daylights out of books.

And if you buy books based on its ranking on the New York Times Best Sellers List (not a bad start), you're probably okay in a big store. You're also okay if you already know what you want.

But what if you go into a bookstore looking for an adventure? What if you step through that front door in the hopes of a grand discovery? Who will help you on your quest?

Probably not the kind of kid who just started last week. I mean, maybe, but probably not. And they do have algorithms out there, but I have yet to find one that can match the expertise of a bookstore owner.

Because you don't run your own bookstore unless you know a boatload or two about books. You don't make it your career unless it's your calling.

And that's why I love independent bookstores. Any literary experience so much better when a person of expert passion is involved. I know that I can go through those doors and emerge with something exciting and unexpected. Not to mention that used books tend to be a lot cheaper, and I could read myself out of house and home if I wasn't careful.

So, you can imagine how excited I was to find a new bookstore near my workplace. Like most bookstores, I entered and immediately felt that I belonged. And when I complimented the owner on her establishment, she said something interesting to me:

"You know," she said, "if you look up local bookstores online, we won't show up. Do you think you could give us a review on Yelp.com? Every time we get a review, we become more visible."

And since I occasionally work at a small cafe, I definitely can understand why a Yelp review is so important. When you don't have the cash to hire SofĂ­a Vergara to promote your product, Yelp is pretty much your best option.

But here's the problem about Yelp: people usually only bother to review things when they have something bad to say.

But I'm not like that. As previously stated, I like saying nice things to people.

(By the way, you are doing an awesome job at reading this post.)

And, you know, if we can go online and say nice things about the businesses we love, maybe more people will find them. Maybe our proactive positivity can keep small bookstores around for the next generation of bookworms.

And if you're not into bookstores, we can no longer be friends that's okay. Proactive positivity can apply to diners, record stores, vintage clothing stores, and pretty much any place that you want to keep around.

Because if you have something nice to say, you should say it. Right? Because we all need a little niceness in our lives. We all need the support of others in order to succeed. This is a great, easy way to bring a little goodness into the world.

And especially my world, because if bookstores all vanish and I have to read all of my books on my phone, I might just cry.

Regards, best wishes, and you don't want to see me when I cry as it involves whale noises,

-Cecily Jane

P.S. I have two independent bookstores that I really love: Another Read Through in Portland and Escape Fiction in Salem. I know a lot of you aren't Oregon locals, so go ahead and leave some of your own recommendations in the comments!

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