Saturday, May 2, 2015

Three Reasons to Shop at an Independent Bookstore

Inkwood Books, Tampa, FL Picture by The Quiet Image
Growing up our little town in Northeast Pennsylvania we didn’t have a bookstore. The closest store was forty-five minutes away, a Walden Bookstore at the mall. There was no Amazon. As a kid, I depended on the school library for my reading needs. Around the age of fourteen, an independent bookstore opened in the next town. Once I discovered it, I begged for rides on the weekends. I fell in love with the store.

Today I still enjoy shopping at independent bookstores mostly because I enjoy the individual attention. A couple of weeks ago I bought a book at Inkwood Books in Tampa. The owner worked the cash register. She provided great service, and advice.

I wanted to purchase a signed copy of John Green’s, Looking for Alaska. The owner looked at the book then looked at me. “Is this a gift?” she asked. I shook my head no. She smiled. “You don’t fit our typical buyer. Usually, young teenage girls buy this book. Perhaps you would like something else.”

Picture by The Quiet Image
I appreciated the fact that she knew her merchandise and clientele, and she was willing to help me not waste twenty dollars. I assured her, I was willing to take a chance. I did enjoy the book.

Independent bookstores also build community. Inkwood Books has several book discussion groups for different ages and interests. I declined to attend the teenage girl’s reading group that meets on Thursdays after school.

Other local community building activities include local author autograph sessions and lectures. Customers get a chance to meet other people from the area that share similar interests. I’ve found that people attending independent bookstore events tend to be more interactive with each other than at the megabookstore author talks.

Lastly, buying books or services at a local independent bookstore supports the local economy. A 2003 study by the American Business Alliance in Austin, Texas found 13% of money spent at big chain stores stays in the local economy, while about 45% of money spent at a locally owned company goes back into the local economy.

Independent bookstores are a good place to shop, and a great place to have in the community. The owners know their merchandise and their market needs. Indie bookstores generate social interaction and build local community spirit, and they support the local economy.

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