Originally posted 8/5/2009
I love used bookstores. I savor the smell of those old, mildewed pages, crisp with age and ripe with knowledge. I always wonder how wise those booksellers are, if they tire of their job, or if they relish the fact that they are constantly surrounded by hundreds of books.
I also love independent bookstores. When I walk into Village Books in Bellingham, WA, or Spellbinder Books in Bishop, CA, I feel at home. When I was a child, I would walk straight to the children’s books section and read the stories until my dad told me it was time to go. Now I mosey around the bestseller and non-fiction shelves, wondering if someday my name will be on a “Staff-Picks” sticker.
More often, however, I wonder if my name will ever make it into an independent bookstore. At the rate Amazon.com is selling books, my name may only be subject to internet searches.
Although I understand the benefits of online shopping, with books, it’s a different story. I will always spend the money and the time at an independent bookstore so it can remain stitched in the fabric of the American bookselling tradition. I would hate to see the day when Amazon.com and book franchises like Borders become the only options for buying books.
I saw this poster recently and decided more people should have the opportunity to read it. Although it’s distributed by the California Independent Booksellers Association, I know it pertains to independent bookstores across the nation. Here it is:
Number of in-store author appearances last year:
California Independent Bookstores—4,000
Amount of donations to local community organizations last year:
Number of local people employed:
Sales taxes collected and paid to support schools, social services and public agencies last year:
CIB—over $10 million
Rather than the big franchises or online options, independent bookstores are the businesses truly committed to the art of writing, the joy of reading, and the passion of bookselling.