Big chain bookstores upset me. The salespeople all look downtrodden. I think that’s because they have to talk to you about rewards programs instead of books. And speaking of books — there are hardly any of them. Mostly there are games and toys and candy and DVDs and Starbucks kiosks.
Independent Bookstores, on the other hand, soothe the soul. They sell actual books, not Nooks. The Staff people are happy because they get to spend all day in the bosom of the Written Word. They write their own personal book recommendations on the bookshelves. They have lots of time to help you find just the right book, because they don’t have to pimp out rewards cards.
Independent bookstores don’t have to answer to a board of directors full of people that don’t read, so they have personalities. They sell baked goods by local bakers and free trade coffee. They have store cats that sleep in the windows. They sponsor readings by famous authors. Everyone associated with independent bookstores — the owners, the Staff, the shoppers, the store cats — loves words. You can feel it when you walk through the doors.
One of my favorite independent bookstores is Malaprop’s, in Asheville, North Carolina. Franny and I were there last week. The salesgirl spent 20 minutes helping Franny find just the right YA novel. We ordered cookies and tea at the food bar. Shoppers lounged in beaten-up arm chairs, typing on laptops, sipping coffee, ensconced in a good book, or dozing — lulled into a post-scone, post-epilogue slumber.
Is this not the best bookstore slogan, ever?
Today, I’m thankful for Malaprop’s Bookstore. What’s your favorite independent bookstore and why? And please leave a link to the store’s web site, if they have one. Let’s spread some literate love!
Lucy Pritzker says
Haven’t been to Malaprop’s, but love Asheville and will check them out next time I’m in town (which is a few times a year- they are catching up to Utah with the amount of therapeutic programs.)
Katy Riker says
In Portland Oregon, Broadway Books and Powell’s.
I’ve heard so much about Powell’s…have never been to Portland but the Powell’s word-of-mouth is enough to make me want to go.
Katy Riker says
Yes! Plus lots of other great reasons to visit Portland.
My husband likes books but it’s ME who’s the bookaholic. Not fair – he went to visit his parents in Vancouver, WA and they took him to Powell’s . .TWICE. (I am still pouting, lol)
Oh- and shout out to a local bookstore” The Bookman in Orange, CA – it’s a used bookstore but one of the best and last in the county . .. .
And for new? Have to go MUCH FARTHER – to Warwicks in La Jolla, CA
Book Soup in West Hollywood. My all-time favorite bookstore ever.
Luckily in DFW area, we are blessed w/Half Price Books (vast storehouses of used merchandise but a significant section of new stuff too) – a great place to browse away the time.
What is DFW area, Val?
Sorry – Dallas/Ft Worth! (it used to be two distinct cities 32 mi apart, but has grown into one vast “Metro-mess” of N central TX)
Got it! Thanks.
O, one of my favorite things! There are some great ones all up the east coast (who happen to be carrying my book and are also awesome in every other way): The Red Canoe and Ivy Bookshop in Baltimore, Bookstore Plus (you wouldn’t believe all the cool stuff, including art supplies) in Lake Placid, NY, Chop Suey Books in Richmond, and Over the Moon in Crozet, VA which also, as it just so happens, carries gorgeous craft pieces and jewelry! What I love about indie bookstores is that they are small and that makes their stock curated–in other words, books are there because the staff has carefully selected them and knows and loves them. You can get anything you want by ordering through an independent bookstore, but if you want to enjoy the experience to the fullest, just go in and ask the owner or a staff person what’s good. Wow. Don’t forget Ann Patchett’s marvelous indie bookstore in Nashville, Parnassus. Wow again.
Great tips, Ginger! I think I’d heard that Ann Patchett had an indie bookstore…wish every (financially) successful writer would do the same.