“Like craft brewing, indie bookstores are growing. The American Booksellers Association reports that the number of stores has increased by 20 percent from 2009 to 2014.” — John Warner, The Biblioracle: Indie Bookstores on the Rise, Chicago Tribune Printers Row Journal, October 10, 2014
An early blog this weekend because today Saturday, May 2nd is Independent Bookstore Day, a country-wide celebration of books and independent bookstores. My wife, Lynne, and I are big fans of independent bookstores. When we travel, we seek them out. On our most recent vacation, we planned one of our days so we could check out Bookstore 1 in Sarasota, Florida.
My favorite visit was Bookworks in Whitefish, Montana that we found in a guide book which they also were selling but didn’t know they were listed in. My most recent “discovery off the shelf” was The Basque History of the World at Kramerbooks near DuPont Circle in DC.
John Warner is my favorite writer about books. If you send your last five books to him [firstname.lastname@example.org & put “Biblioracle” in the subject line], he’ll recommend your next book. John concluded the above article on indie bookstores by noting:
“To me, it seems that book retailing’s future isn’t in the digital-era (alleged) virtues of speed and efficiency, but in the deeper pleasures of community. We don’t need to depend on sacrifice or loyalty to see these places succeed because they will provide a genuinely meaningful experience rooted in a specific place.”
We’ve lived in Chicago’s Logan Square for almost 36 years and these last few years we can now walk to our neighborhood bookstore at 2523 N Kedzie Blvd. They have joined eleven other Chicago independent bookstores to encourage readers to leave their e-books and come shop today.
In a column from last month, Setting the Record Straight on Books, John Warner shares there is mounting evidence that, according to Nielsen BookScan data, “e-reading itself has plateaued at something around 25 percent of the total unit sales. E-books aren’t quite the tsunami washing away the physical book some of us, me included, envisioned.” He observed:
“Maybe I’ll be proven wrong, but as someone who bought and has now abandoned his Kindle, I don’t think the physical book will follow the path of the vinyl record. It will not have to disappear almost entirely for its value to be recognized.”
John Warner’s most recent book is “Tough Day for the Army.” I have an autographed copy because I went to hear him speak at City Lit. As their website notes:
“We know that every time we read a book, it changes us. City Lit is here to help you find that special book that changes your understanding of the world around you.”
I asked Teresa Kirschbraun how City Lit’s business has been since they opened two and a half years ago. She replied that it “has grown in ways that I never imagined.”
“In terms of numbers, we have 20 – 30 families at Story Time every week, well-attended author events and book clubs, and so many wonderful regular customers. We have also become that place to find the right birthday gift or vacation book. The part I had not imagined is that it has become a gathering place and destination for book lovers of all ages.”
That’s why Indie bookstores are on the rise. They’re a local gathering place that builds a community.
Yet they need our support to continue to grow. So skip Amazon. If your local book store doesn’t have what you’re looking for, ask them to order it for you.
While there, go browse and find something that you didn’t know you were even looking for. It’s waiting for you on the shelf. Check out your independent bookstore and buy that book local. Celebrate Independent Bookstore Day!
This week’s U2Cando lyrics come from Lynne’s internet search which discovered this song, “A shop with books in,” inspired by bookshops and written for Independent Booksellers’ Week 2012:
There’s a story waiting inside
Behind the door, as it opens wide
And I wander in, hoping to find
As they tell the stories we know
And those we don’t are waiting to be held,
And taken home
There’s a strange man inside
Who knows what I like
He’ll rush with tea to my side
And a stack of books piled high
If I’m lucky enough there will be lots of stuff
That makes me smile inside
A shop with books in….
Shelves stacked high
Fills my eyes
Who knows what you’ll find
A lovely lady guides me through
I smell the pages, excitement grew
How glad am I to be In company, of such
Purveyors of quality
Her knowledge is vast, Her hand reaches out
And pulls the spine of a beautifully bound
Book of delights, Picked especially for me
(ooooh, I’m so happy)
“A shop with books in” by The Bookshop Band