I live in a metropolitan area, but when I do a Google search for independent bookstores in my area, the closest one is 45 minutes away. The next closest one after that is an hour away. I wondered why that was for the longest time. I as an avid reader and someone who loves to support locally owned businesses I’m disappointed. I love to peruse bookstores. I love to walk through the shelves and get lost in a sea of pages, running my fingers down the neatly placed spines of the books, stopping every once in a while to read the synopsis on back covers. I even love the way that a bookstore SMELLS. I know that anyone who loves books can relate to that sentiment. Now, I can just go to the large Barnes and Nobles that is 5 minutes from my house or order books from Amazon. I mean, that’s more convenient and it’s cheaper, but it’s not the same. That is so formulaic and doesn’t compare to the small hole in the wall store that is crammed with books. Books crammed in the shelves and a friendly neighborhood bookseller who knows you by your name, a feeling of home. When I travel, I make it a point to visit all the bookstores in that area and purchase at least one thing. It can be something small, a trinket or a bookmark, or a paperback that will be nestled into my luggage with the utmost care and taken back home to find it’s home on my shelf. My favorite part of travel is visiting all of the independent bookstores in that city.
Another thing that I love about independent bookstores is the feeling of being surrounded by the power of so many words and differing opinions. Yes, you can find that same feeling when you go to a Barnes and Nobles, Books-a-Million, or Waterstones, but the feeling is so much different when it’s a locally owned place.
That’s something I love about bookstores in general. I love the power that words have. They have a power like no other and can convey so many different ideas and viewpoints. But with an indie bookstore, you can feel the difference of supporting your community. I particularly have a love of used bookstores. You can find a well-loved book there, a book that has been read and loved by others and that has a certain kind of magic. I wonder what adventures the used books I have in my collection have taken. Did they make a voyage across an ocean? Did they get read on the beach? Where did the previous owner take them and what were they going through when they read it? Did they find the solace that I find when reading? Did they find the answers that they were looking for? Did this book change their life, did it make the difference?
Print Media is NOT Dead
There is so much talk about how bookstores are failing since, in addition to online shopping making it easier than ever to get your hands on books, print media is dead. People tend to prefer the functionality and portability of e-books and audiobooks, and that’s if they even bother to read at all. Did you know that the average person reads 12 books a year? But that number is inflated by avid readers, and the number that was reported most is 4. I’m not here to judge those who don’t choose to spend their time curled up with a book, as I understand that not everyone has an interest in it, but that number was still a shock to me. Furthermore, the ease that devices like Kindle, Apple Books, and others allow readers to read makes print books less popular. It is more convenient to carry around a device the size of a small notebook that holds thousands and thousands of titles.
Now, don’t get me wrong, I love e-books and audiobooks as much as the next reader, but there is quite a magic to holding a print book in your hands. I realize that this is not a reality for everyone. Reading is reading, no matter how you consume the material. Print, electronically or by listening, you are still reading and it is a valid method to consuming literature no matter what people say.
But to me, for me, there is something about turning the pages. Something about how it feels to hold a book in my hands and feel the weight of it. I love to sit and get lost in a whole other world, a whole other universe. I read to escape. I read to escape the struggles of daily life and immerse myself in a world of intrigue, heroism, space battles, planets that are different than our own, etc. I read to escape the worries and stresses of life and to throw myself into parallel worlds I could never dream of visiting. I don’t think print is dead, in fact, I think it’s making a resurgence. With the internet making print books easier to purchase and the ability to find new titles in the blink of an eye, people are being connected with their new favorite titles in moments. I’ll support local every opportunity I get, and so should you! Support print material when possible and don’t forget to keep reading.