Laissez Faire Books, RIP

It’s not yet mentioned on their website, but an e-mail over the weekend announced that libertarian bookseller Laissez Faire Books is closing down. As they explain it:

The book market has changed tremendously over the past 30+ years, and it has gotten harder and harder for a small niche bookseller to cover expenses. I suppose the market has spoken.

And those who advocate the market must accept its verdict. But I am sorry to see Laissez Faire books go. In my twenties (and maybe earlier, I can’t remember now) I was an enthusiastic Laissez Faire customer. I wasn’t ideologically (or perhaps nearly as importantly, temperamentally) inclined to sign up to all their enthusiasms, especially for Ayn Rand, but better Friedman, Hayek, Sowell et al. than the swooning over the state of much of the Australian intelligentsia.

Though I am sorry to see Laissez Faire close, I am one of the reasons they are going. Even when a Laissez Faire email alerted me to a new book I wanted, I would usually end up buying it from Amazon. Once, Laissez Faire was the only place I could locate many libertarian books, but Amazon caters to just about every niche market. After taking into account the cheaper postage when buying several books at once, Amazon was usually the less expensive option too.

So Laissez Faire have been caught up in the creative destruction of their ideology. Amazon does a great job of making libertarian books accessible, but it is has helped wipe out a specialist libertarian bookseller in the process.