Indie Bookstores: Where Book Lovers Go to Get Lost

With the advent of e-books and the closing of big chain bookstores like Borders, you might think that the printed word’s days are numbered. It seems counter-intuitive that independent bookstores continue to not only pop up but thrive. Yet these places are havens for bibliophiles and passionately supported by their local clientele.

If you love books and stumble upon one of these treasure troves, you will discover so much more than a place to purchase the same titles (albeit in printed form) that you would download on an e-reader such as a Kindle or Nook. While there, you will often discover great local literature that you would be hard-pressed to find elsewhere. Owners of these bookstores love books just as much (or perhaps even more) than you do and love promoting local authors.

Independent bookstores each have a story unto themselves. Some are small, squeezed between clothing boutiques and barber shops. Others are sprawling, taking up warehouse-sized buildings with labyrinthine fiction and reference sections. You don’t worry about getting lost in places like this. Rather, you revel in it, half-hoping that something magical might happen around the next turn. You never know when a fairy might come loose and flutter out to guide you to the children’s section.

The people you meet at these places are as diverse as the books on the shelves, from the ancient Charles Dickens copies that are cloth-bound and wearing thin at the corners to the freshly-printed paperback thrillers, meticulously edited and self-published by new authors looking forward to blossoming writing careers. As you comb the shelves for something special, you know that you have something in common with the woman just down the aisle: you both love books and want to promote them by helping this independent business.

Indie bookstores are communities unto themselves, sometimes with reading rooms, furnished with mismatched chairs that you forget you’re sitting in as you lose yourself in a new fictional world. Sometimes they have outdoor cafes, where you can argue politics and philosophy or theorize about the ending of the current book your reading group is plowing through. They are places where book lovers can meet, where aspiring authors imagine themselves finding their niche. They are where children learn to love the same books their grandparents enjoyed sixty years ago, places where you can buy for every reader on your shopping list, knowing you will find the perfect gift.

If you have old books that need a new home, they will find a friendly reader at independent bookstores. Out-of-print and rare books are there, along with other treasures like books published by foriegn houses that you just can’t find in the big chains. And if you’re looking for an obscure author or title, you’ll find it’s really hard to stump the owners and employees because they are avid readers just like you.

There’s a reason that independent bookstores are flourishing these days instead of declining. We fiction-lovers get it: we want to get lost in our stories, welcome that plummeting sensation as we leave the “real” world and break through the barrier into the world of delicious fiction. These bookstores are like portals, where our world and that of fiction collide, intersect, and come together in the most beautiful of ways.

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