9 Reasons Small, Independent Bookstores Are Just Better
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9 Reasons Small, Independent Bookstores Are Just Better

They are so much more than just a bookstore.

9 Reasons Small, Independent Bookstores Are Just Better
Photo by Gabi Loue

We all know the famous bookstore giants; the Barnes and Noble, the Books-a-Million (BAM), Amazon, but what about the smaller ones, the unique institutions that exist only in your town. The bookstores that immediately feel like you've walked into somewhere sacred, somewhere warm, somewhere friendly.

I've had the wonderful opportunity to grow close with a few small, independent bookstores, (and hopefully more in the future) and everything about them is just so special and unique. I now rarely shop for books anywhere else. Of course, don't just take these feelings as a reason to walk into that little bookshop. Here are 9 of the most important reasons small, independent bookstores are just, well, better.

1. The immediate sense of community

As probably the most known and essential facet of small, independent bookshops, the community they foster is one of friendship and love of reading. You walk in the door, and the employees immediately greet you. You walk through the bookshelves and the people around you talk to you, ask you questions, or even pick out a book you may like.

The more times you visit, the more you get to know the owners and various employees. They aren't often many, and they aren't there just to work a 9-5 job and get paid, they are there because they genuinely love reading and being surrounded by books.

In my favorite small bookstore, I know almost everyone by name, and they know me too. That creates a wonderfully welcoming environment that I always to which I ever desire to return.

2. You now have access to so many books you may not have otherwise seen or even known about

Instead of the known big bookstores that often advertise and shelve the biggest names or most famous current novels, independent bookstores give almost equal value to any and all books they have in their collection. The famous novels can be found right alongside the lesser known gems, so as you browse the shelves you may come to notice novels of your liking for which you have never before seen or heard about.

These bookstores also often feature local authors or books about their town, so you can read great literature while also learning about the place you call home. Sometimes you can even get recommendations from the employees who have come to know you.

3. There are so many beautiful and unique editions of each book

Not only are the books themselves often unique, but their covers and their bindings are also varying. Small bookstores often have access to many different editions of your favorite novel, so while the bigger bookstores may carry more copies, these smaller ones have them beat regarding style and specialty. No, you're not supposed to judge a book by its cover, but sometimes the beauty is a bonus.

Also if you are a collector of first editions, these places can be a treasure trove. Any collectors should always visit here first. Plus, you may even find it signed.

4. Every Saturday is Small Business Saturday

Building Fronts

When you buy a book from a small, independent bookstore, the money you spend goes directly to your local economy and to the right people you've gotten to know. In fact, according to a recent statistic in Writer's Digest, for every $100 you spend in your local bookstore, $73 remains in your local community, whereas if you spend $100 in a bookstore giant (Barnes and Noble, BAM, etc.), only $43 stays.

More likely than not, if you've bought from a local bookstore you've also met the people that own it, so now you have a personal relationship with those you're supporting. And I don't know about you, but that just makes me feel much better about spending my money there, rather than somewhere else.

5. These bookstores often support local charitable acts

These types of bookstores exist because they want to foster a love of reading in their immediate community, so they often support and advertise local literacy programs, both for adults and children alike. They may be the location of said tutoring, or at least could connect you with the place that is.

I've also known these bookstores to sponsor local charities through special events, or even a period where a certain percentage of each book sale goes towards the charity itself. So not only are you supporting your local economy, but you're also helping your local people.

6. You love the interesting settings in your favorite novels, now find a unique one in your own life too

Every single independent bookstore is unique. There are different setups, different selections, and different methods to make the business attractive to the local community. I've been in bookstores that foster towering shelves of old books, to ones that proudly display each cover face up on tables, to ones that prefer to stack their books in various locations around the building. And there is nothing like the comfortable feel of being surrounded by pages, and the smell of books is usually the strongest in locations like these.

And those huge cookie-cutter bookstores? They all look pretty much the same, no matter what town or community you find yourself in.

7. These bookstores represent every facet of the local community

Since these small businesses are so entrenched in the local community, they often serve to shine a light on local authors, local histories, and local struggles through their various book and author offerings. They can expose racial issues in the community, and contain books that feature topics in women's issues and LGBTQ+ rights. It is often said that small, independent bookstores are representative of the local communities in which they are found, and because of that, every person can often find themselves within these pages.

8. They are so much more than a bookstore

Yes, they sell books, but that's not the only service these special locations offer. They are often the site of local author signings or even authors on tour, as the loving and passionate community they represent are a welcome sight for these literary travelers.

Sometimes you can find coffeehouses within these stores as well. There is even one in the town that not only sells drinks but also gives them a literary name (yes, I have once purchased a "Clockwork Orange Juice"). My sister even takes piano lessons within the said bookstore.

9. Small independent bookstores are on the rise, so you might as well be part of this rising new trend

According to a recent article from CBS News, small bookstores are now "booming" like never before. Instead of immediately purchasing what they need online, people are instead of taking a walk through their local bookstore hoping to come upon something they want to read. The independent bookstore has become a type of community center for towns, and it's various advantages are drawing crowds fast.

So next time you want to make a book purchase, are looking for a novel to read or want to browse around your local community, consider buying from your local independent bookstore. From special editions to author signings to staff recommendations, you're sure to find not only a book but a new literary community.

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This article has not been reviewed by Odyssey HQ and solely reflects the ideas and opinions of the creator.
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