In an age (and holiday season) where online shopping reigns supreme, it can seem easy to embark on yet another Amazon shopping spree—especially for book lovers. While we all know buying from your indie bookstore helps the local economy, there’s a wealth of other benefits in store (think wine, celebs, your kids—really!).
Book lovers should never forget the feeling of a bookstore: The tinge of paper and ink in the air, the feeling of the book in your hands, the excitement of embarking on an adventure between the pages. Basically, we need to bring back the vellichor, people! (It’s no coincidence I ran across the word, which means “the strange wistfulness of used bookshops” a week before writing this piece.)
So for Small Business Saturday, we wanted to highlight 7 reasons why you should buy from your local bookstore.
Discover local talent—and more appreciation for your home
You can always pick up the current best-selling books at your local bookstore, as well as hundreds of other titles by well-known authors. But if you’re feeling adventurous, head on over to the section that supports local authors. These usually feature a wide variety of self-published authors, as well as others who have garnered some national notoriety. It’s a way to read books that incorporate local landmarks and settings you’re familiar with. Either way, you’re getting to know a new side of your local arts scene.
If you want to discover more than that, seek out the section highlighting books about your city or state, whether it’s historical, adventure travel guides, photo books—get to know your home sweet home just a little bit better.
There are woes to ordering online
As a book collector (some might say hoarder) I’ve had my fair share of ordering books online. Yes, Amazon might have great pricing—$8.50 for The War of Art?! Well, then you add $1.75 for tax and $4.50 for shipping, and since you purchased it as “Used” for the best price, it arrives with doodling in the margins and a torn cover. Book lovers get a little protective of their books, and what is the point in saving a dollar over helping your local economy, and receiving damaged goods?
Read, eat, drink & be merry…
… all year round at your local indie bookstore. More and more, local bookstores are expanding with edgy coffee shops, gourmet pizzerias, cafes, and yes, even bars. There’s nothing better than picking up a few new books, grabbing a bite to eat and glass of wine, and curling up in a cozy armchair for a few hours to avoid that winter chill—or stretching out at a sunny patio table. I know an author who has a monthly tradition of perusing the local authors’ section at her favorite bookstore before settling in for the afternoon on a corner couch with a local beer or mimosa. It’s one of the best ways to fit in a solid window of reading time, and you’re also able to routinely discover new reads.
Bookstores are a great place for you to learn about what’s happening in your community—and are secretly the best place for finding out when celebs are coming to town.
You may not realize it, but the event calendar at your local bookstore is a great way to keep a finger on the community’s pulse. Bulletin boards often display an array of happenings around town, and the store’s calendar is packed with events: Book readings, signings, workshops, releases, discussion groups, book clubs, and more. Touring authors want to meet their readers face-to-face, and many bookstores host at least a dozen author appearances every month.
Oh, and what type of authors most often go on tour? Famous ones, that’s who.
Nowadays, it’s normal for well-known actors, artists, musicians, and other figures to write their memoirs, and many of them (particularly musicians and comedians) coincide their tours with their book tour. And these events are rarely promoted; most find out directly from the bookstore. In the past three months alone, my favorite local bookstore, Changing Hands in Tempe, Arizona, hosted comedian Rainn Wilson, drummer Travis Barker (called “punk rocks’ first superstar” by Rolling Stone), #1 New York Times best-selling author Mitch Albom, actor Jason Segel, musician Jewel, and many more.
There’s nothing better than the ability to pass on your love for books
Children’s story hours; ‘nuff said. Introducing your child to the love of reading is one of life’s beautiful things. And even if you don’t have children, trust me: When you happen to be browsing the book shelves and overhear the “oohs” and “ahhs” of children embarking on a fairy tale adventure, it gives you hope for the next generation. Dare to dream, I know—but if seeing a group of children fawn over books doesn’t melt your heart, I don’t know what will.
Find one-of-a-kind gifts—not just books—for any occasion
There’s no doubt you can find unique books, new and old, at local bookstores. But something that often surprises people is the amount of other items on sale, often from local purveyors, and brands that distribute to specialty shops all over the country. Pick out a gift that represents your town or for that person that “seems to have everything.” Think all-natural soaps, funky greeting cards, kids’ crafts, intricate leather journals, tongue-in-cheek gifts, pottery, literary gifts (like scarves inked with book excerpts)—a lot of these store owners travel the state, and even the country looking for things that make life more fun. And when you make a purchase at the store, whether it’s a book or a gift, you also…
Support your local economy
I couldn’t leave out the oldest reason in the book to shop local! When you spend your money here, you’re spending money on your city, your own personal passion, and the people who support it. Plus, don’t forget it’s the people who own these bookstores and work there that support your business as well.
Want to find a list of the indie bookstores near you? Look no further.
(Oh, and if you’re still interested about vellichor, it was from 23 Emotions We All Feel But Don’t Know the Name Of.