This Atlantic article makes the argument that chain stores have done a lot of good for the book buying public, contrary to the elitist complaints to the contrary. There are some good factual points raised, but two essential points are missed. First, book chains are likely not sustainable in their current form. Their low prices and perks are subsidized by investors, so they can afford to sink independents without having to be profitable in the short term. Like the cold war, it's about who runs out of money first. This means that independents get put out of business rather quickly, handing an enourmous amount of power to the chains relatively quickly. Once there's no competition, prices can go back up, and selection can become more concentrated. While there's still a relatively large selection, it's a selection chosen by a few people, so if you can't sell your book to the few buyers who work for all the chains, then you're more screwed than before. Corporate censorship at its least visible. And the music they play in those places.. that's another rant.
Mel Lastman, the mayor of Toronto doesn't get to avoid the question. Wouldn't it be nice if journalists could make politicians look like fools every time they try to avoid a simple question?