The last Saturday of every April has become a bookish holiday of sorts. Independent bookstores all over the country will be having special events, parties, sales, celebrations. We’ve lost many independent bookstores over the last few years, but I’m happy to say that there are many, many out there that are hanging tough.
All bookstores are good things, in my opinion. Bookstores in general have suffered because of the availability of cheap books online. And I confess I do buy some of my books online–especially audiobooks. But there are things that only a bricks-and-mortar bookstore can do for you.
I love talking to booksellers about the books they’re loving RIGHT NOW. Those books aren’t always new, and they’re not always bestsellers. If someone is going to the trouble to handsell a book to you, then they’ve probably read it and can answer any content questions you might have. Word of mouth is still the very best way to sell or even find good books. That’s not a bot you’re talking to. It’s a person with opinions and enthusiasm and, above all, a reputation to maintain.
Something you can’t find out from an online vendor: How that book made the reader feel. Sure, you can read reviews online or in the paper, and I know I depend on reviews. But one has to be careful–people pay for reviews. If I’m on Amazon, I like to check out the other reviews the person has written. You can find out revealing things, like their feelings about the paper towels they bought two years ago.
Independent bookstores (granted, like non-independents as well) employ local folks. They often support local authors or writer groups. They encourage book clubs and sometimes even host them.
Added bonus: You can take a seat and read enough of a book to decide whether you want to buy it, sip coffee, and pet the store cat. (Any bookstore that has a cat is my favorite.)
Here are just a few of the independents I’ve had the pleasure to visit and/or buy books from. I hope you’ll drop by one of them today!