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Bear with me for doing some volunteer advertising here for one of my several "homes away from home," a store which provides a feast for the senses.

If you regularly visit Barnes & Noble, you've familiar with their extensive selection of books you can browse through--on some of which you can get some good deals. It's where I found Chris Rose's excellent collection of post-Katrina columns, "1 Dead In Attic."

You're familiar with the peaceful, homey ambience, with the comfy, cozy overstuffed armchairs where you could sit and read for hours. And the pleasant music played over their sound system. (That's how I found out about the Fats Domino tribute album Goin' Home.)

And you're familiar with their music department's "Red Dot" system, where not only can you listen to bits and pieces from albums in the store, you also can listen to ones that aren't in stock, that you can have ordered.

You're familiar with the tantalizing aroma from their coffee shop--and may even have ordered coffee or eaten goodies there....

But here's yet another reason to enjoy shopping at Barnes & Noble. Or visit their website (though I find actually shopping at the store much more pleasurable.) Or buy stock in that company. Per a recent report in the Times-Picayune, Barnes & Noble chairman Leonard Riggio is planning

an initiative that should place at least 120 families into new houses built with energy-efficient features and elevated to a height that should protect them from future floods. Riggio, the chairman of Barnes & Noble, plans to spend $20 million from his family's charitable foundation on the effort.

In announcing this effort,

Riggio, a devotee of New Orleans music, opened his speech with a reference to Randy Newman's song about the 1927 Mississippi River flood, which includes the lines, "Louisiana, Louisiana, they're trying to wash us away . . ." He said no flood could wipe out the music, food, culture and "genius" that New Orleans has bequeathed the rest of the country.

"Despite the enormity of Katrina's fury, a point was proved once again. No storm or flood or disaster could ever destroy this city, because its people are too resilient and too resourceful, too proud and too anchored in deep roots, to ever be washed away," he said

The only thing that's sad about this is the fact that were it not for philanthropists such as Riggio, Brad Pitt, and others, and volunteer groups such as Habitat for Humanity who've been building Musicians Village, New Orleans and her people would be getting far less help because of the inaction of BushCo. And the help from all these individuals and groups is a drop in the bucket compared to what's needed--homelessness is still a major problems in New Orleans. And these homeless, as Crashing Vor says,

are not the cliched caricatures that people think of when they hear the word "homeless."  The majority are not transients from elsewhere, but former homeowners and renters from this city.  They were not "mainstreamed" to the street from mental institutions, but flooded out of their homes by the failure of a flood-protection system that, by law, their city and state were not allowed to touch, that system being the sole responsibility of the Army Corps of Engineers.

And on the topic of the ACOE, per the Times Picayune, there are plans to build recreational stuff around the Bonnet Carree Spillway. That's a waste--I mean, I'd rather see the money that's being spent on that used to upgrade New Orleans' levees to protect the people living there from a future Cat 5 storm. But what do I know? I'm just an interested observer and blogger from the Midwest.

Originally posted to Louisiana 1976 on Wed Mar 05, 2008 at 07:24 AM PST.


Does whether or not a company supports any of your causes factor into whether or not you'll shop or otherwise do business with them?

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Comment Preferences

  •  Like you, I give an inordinate amount of (8+ / 0-)

    my time and dough to Mr. Riggio's business.  I was tickled pinker'n a Brad Pitt house when I read of his generosity to our town.

    Just thinking about it makes me want to read!

  •  But always try to shop your Locally ownned (11+ / 0-)

    Bookseller first.Here is one independant seller in
    New Orleans

    My local favorite
    see You can support what you want directly.

    Secret Agent fairy Princess twirling about performing acts of graceful espionage

    by ballerina X on Wed Mar 05, 2008 at 07:32:55 AM PST

    •  Amen to that (9+ / 0-)

      This is an admirable act of philanthropy, but please keep in mind also that Barnes & Noble was sued by the American Booksellers Association for colluding with publishers (including Penguin, the nation's largest publisher) and distributors (including Ingram, the nation's largest book distributor) to set lower wholesale prices than the industry standard, allowing B&N a larger gross margin on each sale than any other competitor could obtain. This sort of anticompetitive practice is typical of market-killers in many different industries, from hardware to coffee.

      If you want a healthy local economy and a resilient national economy, support locally owned, independent businesses wherever and whenever you can.

      "The great lie of democracy, its essential paradox, is that democracy is first to be sacrificed when its security is at risk." --Ian McDonald

      by Geenius at Wrok on Wed Mar 05, 2008 at 07:48:59 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  B&N is a huge corporation. Treat it as such. (6+ / 0-)

      I used to work for B&N, and can confirm that it's a large corporation whose corporate philosophy and ideals are centered around making money, not serving the customer or -- heaven forbid -- respecting books.

      Geenius, in another reply to the parent comment, says:

      If you want a healthy local economy and a resilient national economy, support locally owned, independent businesses wherever and whenever you can.

      This could not be more accurate. B&N, despite its charismatic leader, is not your friend -- and, more importantly, does not deserve your business.

      All tyranny needs to gain a foothold is for people of good conscience to remain silent. -- Thos. Jefferson

      by HooverWhoWontSuck on Wed Mar 05, 2008 at 08:20:00 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  I live..... (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      ballerina X, jlms qkw

      in a city of about 115,000 2 1/2 hours from Chicago. Unless you're looking for used books, there aren't any local, independently-owned booksellers here. The ones we used to have went out of business.

      Don't miss my new blog! "We are all New Orleans now."--Barbara O'Brien

      by Louisiana 1976 on Wed Mar 05, 2008 at 08:24:33 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  excactly my point (0+ / 0-)

        there aren't any local, independently-owned booksellers here. The ones we used to have went out of business.

        B&N is one of the big reasons they went out of Business.

        Secret Agent fairy Princess twirling about performing acts of graceful espionage

        by ballerina X on Wed Mar 05, 2008 at 08:51:33 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

      •  Strange factoid... (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Louisiana 1976

        For some reason, the opening of a Barnes and Noble in my hometown 1 hour SSE of Chicago did not kill off the local bookstore.  Nor did the Borders up in Highland kill off Miles Books.  Perhaps it did force them to specialize a bit.  Remarkable Book Store specializes in used paperbacks and baseball cards, but will special-order the new stuff.  Miles Books' owner claims that he can get any book in print anywhere, and word on the street is that he does.  

        It did kill B. Dalton and Waldenbooks, largely because the big bookstores took them over.  So we had to go across the street (B&N) or downstairs (Borders).  Yawn.

        The bookstore/coffeehouses also offer a great place to hang out without the expectation of getting drunk.  They tend to be safe places for teens to hang out -- no troublemaker in his right mind would be caught dead in a bookstore.  

        Finally, Barnes and Noble offered a wide selection of books and magazines that were not overly mediated by the morals police and the lower-middlebrow police [1].  They were first to shed a bunch of intellectual light into my hometown, and for that they deserve gratitude.

        [1] Example of lower-middlebrow policework.  The head of the local utility, who was also highly placed with the symphony, got into an argument with the conductor because the conductor scheduled too many classical concerts and not enough pops.  Never mind that the blue-collar epicenter of Da Region packed a huge church for a concert of Bach, Vivaldi and 16th-century Italian motets in Hebrew and the Symphony's audience grew with its audacity.  

        Dems in 2008: An embarassment of riches. Repubs in 2008: Embarassments.

        by Yamaneko2 on Wed Mar 05, 2008 at 10:55:07 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  We had a local.... (0+ / 0-)

          chain of 3 or 4 "bookstores," the Book Emporium, that went out of business soon after both Barnes & Noble and Borders came to town, but here's how I think this happened:

          For many years (prior to the arrival of B&N and Borders, the Book Emporium primarily sold books, and carried a wide selection of them. This made browsing there fun, and their stores had been my favorites. But gradually they changed until, right before they closed, only 25% of their merchandise was books--the rest consisted of cards and the other overpriced gewgaws one would find in a Hallmark store. And I rarely if ever visited them, prefering Barnes & Noble.

          So the Book Emporium had become a disappointment to anyone wanting a bookstore to browse in. To visit a real bookstore, you had to go to B&N or Borders.

          I think this is why they went out of business--perhaps had they remained a bookstore instead of cutting way back on books to make room for all the other stuff, they'd have been able to compete with B&N and Borders.

          Don't miss my new blog! "We are all New Orleans now."--Barbara O'Brien

          by Louisiana 1976 on Thu Mar 06, 2008 at 08:01:19 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

      •  Used Books... (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Louisiana 1976 exactly why I have a problem with B&N and Borders.  When the big chains drive the small independant bookstores out of the area it becomes increasingly difficult to find used books.

        If all you want is what is being sold currently they are very nice to visit and I do like browsing at B&N, I just wish that they also sold used books.

        Here's to HOPE in Honduras

        by wallyslittlebro on Thu Mar 06, 2008 at 11:29:50 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

  •  I think it's great that he's doing this. (5+ / 0-)

    And I mean no accusation to him when I say this, because he's just part of a larger trend.  But I am very uncomfortable by the fact that so many of our good works come from the private fortune of the extremely wealthy.

    Sometimes it feels like we're becoming servants on their plantations.

    •  Well said-- (5+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      socratic, chigh, I, Virginia mom, jlms qkw

      it's a sad commentary on the state of government today that were it not for philanthropists such as Reggio and Pitt, little or nothing would be done for New Orleans.

      Don't miss my new blog! "We are all New Orleans now."--Barbara O'Brien

      by Louisiana 1976 on Wed Mar 05, 2008 at 08:27:43 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  It's used to be called Noblesse Oblige (4+ / 0-)

      and it's too bad that rich GOPers don't practice it more often.

    •  At least (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Cyber Kat, I, Louisiana 1976

      some of them are using their powers for good.  But your comment highlights my pet theory that capitalism -- real capitalism -- is a myth in this country and we are instead living in a very sophisticated form of feudalism.  It seems to me that real capitalism would want to maximize the amount of capital in people's wallets, so that they can buy stuff.  A polarized system of wealth division is not efficient from a capitalist's point of view, because a rich person can only buy so many sneakers, gallons of milk, and computers.

      •  Capitalism? In America? (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Cyber Kat, I

        For starters, the Federal budget remains over 20% of GDP as Big Government decides we need more guns and less butter.  For good measure it sucked up enough investment in 2004 ($476 billion deficit) to finance the construction of a million $200,000 homes and 2.5 million $100,000 business loans.  While much of the nation endures a sluggish economy, the boom in metro DC continues.  

        Capitalism does not care about wealth distribution;  it is simply the desire to apply some sort of work to wealth to make more wealth.  Capitalists, on the other hand, are well-advised to nurture a content middle class that buys their products and services and owns enough wealth/property to resist calls to have it redistributed or regulated.  

        Not that a purely capitalistic system is necessarily good -- it's just that like Communism and Christianity, Capitalism has never been tried.  

        Dems in 2008: An embarassment of riches. Repubs in 2008: Embarassments.

        by Yamaneko2 on Wed Mar 05, 2008 at 11:20:21 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

  •  i avoid amazon (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Bob Love, Louisiana 1976

    powell's is first choice for online ordering
    b & n second

    powell's supports literacy with its charitable portion of profits.

    b & n i heard, splits political donations 50-50

    amazon's political donations lean right.  (also heard, no link).  

    Proud Member of the Mariachi Mama Bickering Moratorium

    by jlms qkw on Wed Mar 05, 2008 at 08:48:33 AM PST

  •  B & N has a banner ad on Rush Limbaugh's website (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Bob Love

    This is why I'll not do a penny's worth of business with Barnes & Noble.  Nosiree!  

  •  Didn't quite know how to answer - (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Louisiana 1976

    when I know a company supports a cause that I like, it definitely sways me to support them, but I don't know much about what most companies support (except for the really good or really bad), so usually there's no effect on my choice.  Also, my causes are sufficiently obscure that not many companies get involved.

    Now, go spread some peace, love and understanding. Use force if necessary. - Phil N DeBlanc

    by lineatus on Wed Mar 05, 2008 at 09:19:25 PM PST

  •  This should help me (0+ / 0-)

    when I try to apply for a job there this summer. Thanks!

    Simply go to "[your username]'s Page", choose the "My Profile" tab, and click "Save All Changes."

    by goshzilla on Thu Mar 06, 2008 at 03:07:50 AM PST

  •  Recreation is important to rebuilding, too (0+ / 0-)

    While homes are needed, I'm glad to see the Corps looking at recreation. Life goes on in NOLA, and I'm glad my grandson can grow up going to the zoo, the botanical gardens, etc.

    Barnes & Noble, however, is a mixed bag.  I confess to using the big stores, too, but I strongly advocate (and often use) the best of the independents in my city.  I don't want the small bookstore to go the way of so many other small businesses.

  •  We're near B&N (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Louisiana 1976

    and it's a favorite place for my son. He has some special problems and there aren't that many public places where he feels comfortable.

  •  Despite this diary, I have a difficult time (0+ / 0-)

    supporting a cookie cutter store like B&N.   As a librarian, I see them doing very little to promote literacy in an effective manner.   It would behoove this corporation to reach out to lower income communities and help to push literacy programs for the less fortunate and new immigrants.  But, the only time you see a B&N is in a middle to upper class neighborhood or mall.   So, it would seem the bottom line is still the most important factor in B&N's corporate philosophy and not generosity as we would all  like to see.

    "It ain't what you don't know that gets you into trouble. It's what you know for sure that just ain't so." - Mark Twain

    by Casey on Thu Mar 06, 2008 at 06:56:02 AM PST

    •  Interesting--- (0+ / 0-)

      I've noticed that sometimes the Barnes & Noble where I live will request that shoppers purchase children's books there, then donate them to a local children's literacy program. Unfortunately I don't recall its name.

      Don't miss my new blog! "We are all New Orleans now."--Barbara O'Brien

      by Louisiana 1976 on Thu Mar 06, 2008 at 08:08:39 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  I used to work for B&N for 3 years... (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Louisiana 1976

    ...and I was very proud to work there, knowing that it was a "blue" business.

    The best comment I ever heard working there: "We carry to many liberal books."

    Worst comment said by a father buying books for his daughter: "Oh, I don;t know about her wanting this Al Franken book (Lies book).  I may have to buy her a couple of Ann Coulter books to balance it out." (how I kept smiling and helping the customer at that moment I'll never know - training kicked in)

    The only bookstore I'll spend my money at is B&N.  I'm proud of the causes they support.

    Great diary!  Thanks for the update on what Len is doing.

    (-7.25, -6.00) I will raise my voice to be heard for those who have no voice...

    by Activist Girl on Thu Mar 06, 2008 at 08:32:45 AM PST

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