I read an interesting article today titled: What Are Independent Bookstores Really Good For? published on Slate.com in May 2006. It might have been two years ago, but writer Tyler Cowen’s article is still relevant in 2008. He writes:
Ever since the rise of the book superstore in the 1990s, we have been flooded with lamentations for the rapidly disappearing independent booksellers—cool hang-outs where the staff knows something about literature, the owners select each title with care, and bearded patrons sit at crowded coffee tables, talking about Jack Kerouac or the latest translation of Tolstoy. Thanks to the indies, it is thought, high-quality but inaccessible books can slowly build their reputations through reader word-of-mouth and eventually take the literary world by storm.
He goes on to say that indie bookstores ‘help cultivate and nurture—the eccentric interests, the peculiar niches‘ and that it is these qualities which will go by the wayside ‘in the routinized world of the superstore.‘
This article caught my attention because I am guilty of not always supporting the Independent booksellers with my dollars. It is cheaper (and easier) to log into my Amazon account or to stop by at one of the big chains which often offer deep discounts. But I must admit, I feel better when I shop in the neighborhood bookstore that serves up not only great books but staff who recognize me and an atmosphere which makes me want to curl up with my next novel.
Indiebound is an organization that celebrates Independent booksellers. Their tag line reads:
IndieBound is a socially-conscious movement in support of independent businesses and shopping locally, starting with indie bookstores. It’s about raising awareness, it’s about reaching out, and it’s about taking pride in your community.
They give some great reasons to support the Indies including keeping your dollars in your community, creating local jobs, supporting diversity, and supporting the environment (through less packaging and transportation of goods).
The American Booksellers Association (ABA) provides the Indies Next List – which is ‘drawn from bookseller-recommended favorite handsells, epitomizes the heart and soul of passionate bookselling. Independent booksellers are and have always been discoverers of the next big thing, the next great read, the next bestseller, and the next undiscovered gem.‘
Here is what made the September list:
- In Hovering Flight, by Joyce Hinnefeld
- My Father’s Paradise: A Son’s Search for His Jewish Past in Kurdish Iraq, by Ariel Sabar
- America Eats! On the Road with the WPA, by Pat Willard
- The Good Thief, by Hannah Tinti
- Anathem, by Neal Stephenson
- Fine Just The Way It Is: Wyoming Stories 3, by Annie Proulx
- Feather Man, by Rhyll McMaster
- Just Breathe, by Susan Wiggs
- Hurry Down Sunshine: A Memoir, by Michael Greenberg
- American Wife, by Curtis Sittenfeld
- City of Refuge, by Tom Piazza
- Home, by Marilynne Robinson
- The Heretic’s Daughter, by Kathleen Kent (read my review)
- Songs for the Butcher’s Daughter, by Peter Manseau
- The Black Tower, by Louis Bayard
- Man in the Dark, by Paul Auster
- American Savior, by Roland Merullo
- Stalking Irish Madness: Searching for the Roots of My Family’s Schizophrenia, by Patrick Tracey
- Ritual, by Mo Hayder
- Sweeping Up Glass, by Carolyn Wall
To find an Independent Bookseller near you where you can buy one of these recommended titles, visit the ABA site under Find an ABA Member Bookstore.