Independent Bookstores: An Experience, Not an Errand
By Danielle Sinon
After last week’s post on Independent Bookstore Day, we decided to share some more details on independent bookstores and what makes them unique. With easy access to online stores like Amazon, it’s so easy to buy a book with one click. So why do people continue to go back to bookstores?
Some people want to go into a bookstore, see the best seller they came in for and get back to their lives. Other people are satisfied with purchasing a few books online that will be efficiently delivered to their home in two business days (with free shipping, of course). But there are some who want the bookstore experience.
This may mean sipping on a glass of red wine and finding your new favorite book with classical music playing softly in the background. Or it could mean taking your daughter to a bookstore for story time. It could also be that you enjoy going to a bookstore and finding a comfortable place to sit and drink your coffee while you flip through a book and people watch. If any of these situations strike a chord in you, then there is no doubt that you would love independent bookstores.
Independent bookstores make an effort to give customers the best experience possible. They provide great customer service and usually have a cozy atmosphere, welcoming customers to sit and stay awhile. This is important for their sales because it means that customers will return again and again.
While the atmosphere is definitely an important factor when it comes to independent bookstores, the books are what make the store. It is most common for large bookstore chains to display the most popular books: the ones that have been given the most publicity, and the ones that are being made into movies. Popular books are usually great reads, but sometimes you just want to find something new and different. These larger stores will definitely have some hidden gems, but they’re usually a little difficult to find. This is where independent bookstores come into play.
Instead of just trying to sell books, independent bookstores try to recommend books. This is what makes people go back again and again. Buying a book from an independent seller is often a special experience. You may read a recommendation card next to a book you’ve never heard of or have an hour-long discussion with the bookseller about a book you’ve both read — neither of which can occur when online shopping.
It’s common for independent bookstores to display books read by people who work in the store. There will be a card with the person’s name and their review of the book, sometimes including something like, “Fans of Harry Potter will love this book.” This curated selection makes the customer feel like they’ve discovered something unique and gives them hope that this book will be a special one.
How Do They Do It?
Independent bookstores have been run the same way for decades: a low inventory of great books, tailoring to the needs of their customers, and providing great customer service. The combination of these elements allows customers to create a personal connection with their local independent bookstore. It changes from a store into a community.
For those who don’t have an independent bookstore in their area or don’t have time to make it out to their independent bookstore this week, you can still “shop local.”
IndieBound is a great website for locating independent and local bookstores, but it also acts as everyone’s local bookstore. Independent bookstores around the country have joined together to provide readers with this resource. Using their online store, you’ll easily be able to discover new titles and order books. Purchasing from this website helps to support the entire network of independent bookstores.
Another independent resource is Libro.fm. This website has partnered with local bookstores so that every time you buy an audiobook from them, they will directly support the local store of your choice. Plus, for Independent Bookstore Day, members will be able to download a small selection of audiobooks for free!
Local bookstores are more than just stores; they are an important part of our communities and bring readers of all ages together. Hosting local events like Independent Bookstore Day, they bring readers of all ages together to celebrate books!
Don’t have any plans on April 27? Go get yourself some new books!