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!