Ladling Love Upon Your Local Indie Bookstore

The reports of the bookstore’s death have been greatly exaggerated.

If you ask me, bookstores aren’t dead. They’re not even dying. And it’s not about print books (which are, by the way, also not dying — they’re not just as prominent as they once were): it’s about bookstores offering something that no online shopping experience ever can. It’s about bookstores bringing to the table an experience — which can be anything, really, but possibly involves coffee, tall shelves, pretty covers, author events, signed copies of books, rare releases, and maybe one or two homeless dudes who wandered in from outside. (Hey, Amazon will never offer us the “random homeless guy” experience. Though, now as I say that, Jeff Bezos is descending into the darkness of his laboratory to concoct some kind of digital hobo initiative — “Old Ciggy Jim has a Hobo Ranking of #4588! Beat that, Bindle Dan!”)

Let’s be clear: not every independent bookstore is worth saving by dint of it being an independent bookstore. Some bring nothing to the table that you can’t already get elsewhere (the answer to what an indie bookstore offers can never be “just books,” because that is a realm in which they cannot compete). But many others are wonderful, weird places — great staff, fine events, eclectic selections, nice design, the finest homeless around. So, with that being said, here’s what I want from you:

I’d like you to sing the praises of an indie bookstore you love.

Maybe it’s local to you. Or at least within driving distance.

Maybe it’s not. Maybe it’s one you found in another city and you want to praise it with mighty hymns.

Tell me about your favorite indie bookstore.

Part of this is because: hey, I wanna celebrate those bookstores.

Another part is entirely selfish. Because you can bet I’m taking notes as to places I may one day stop to sign books, give readings, shake hands, kiss babies, and eradicate the growing Hobo Menace.

You.

Favorite bookstores.

Give ‘em some love.

62 comments

  • It’s one of the only English Bookstores in Korea, and it’s two hours from me so I rarely go, but I know right where it is: What the Book in Itaewon, Seoul, South Korea. Yes, I rarely go. But oh it is a comfort to know that it exists.

  • I love a little place in downtown Augusta, GA called The Book Tavern. Their selection of books is good, they help support local and regional writers, and they have knowledgable friendly staff. But my favorite part is the conversations I have with the owner. Since he opened his doors at the first location, I have always enjoyed going in and talking with him about… Really anything. He is great at sharing a different opinion without becoming argumentative, and I have had some of the most amiable debates with him that I have ever engaged in.

  • arrghh curse you B&N. I’m sure there’s used bookstores in my area and I swear I’ve been to a couple…. *lightbulb* Ahhhh yess now I remember.

    When I was on vacation at Hampton Beach, New Hampshire, right next to a mildly popular restaraunt called Ronaldo’s is a small Independant shop with cheap books. I like it because of the cheap prices they have there. Sorry Chuck, I don’t have the name, but if you find the restaurant, finding the store should be a sinch.

    Although I am guilty of submitting to the oppressive rule of my local B&N (sorry, the smell of new books is simply too much for me to stay away from), when you look at prices, Independant shops usually kick B&N’s ass. And honestly the condition of the book doesn’t make it good. It’s the story. And besides I don’t really need a brand new book seeing as I (and as does a lot of people) tend to only read through a book once, unless if they really like it.

  • Foxtale Books is just 1 mile from my house and is owned by three kooky, lovely ladies. The store is nice and charming and they have an ass ton of authors through to sign books.

    They hosted the release party for BLOOD AND BULLETS and will be hosting the party for book 2 in two weeks (BLOOD AND SILVER Deacon Chalk book 2 Aug 7th if you are around the ATL)

    They also host such fine folks as Delilah S. Dawson and Janice Hardy.

    They kick a LOT of ass. and Chuck if you want to hit this area let me know and I will get your ass in. You’ll be a few hours south in October. We could schedule you then.

    Here’s their website.

    http://www.foxtalebookshoppe.com/

  • Chiming in to second Sharon and Lauren’s Seattle recommendations — Elliott Bay is fantastic, and Third Place Books is my longtime second home. They gave me my first post-college job (at the larger Lake Forest Park location) and have one of the most dedicated groups of employees around — as well as an Espresso Book Machine and a press of their own.

  • Here in Fredericksburg, Virginia, we have a great little place called Read All Over. Great selection of used, pre-read, new-to-you books. They also have music from time to time and great location — right down form the local coffee shop, and 3 minute walk from my new place.

    I have to give a shout out to one of my favorites out in my second home town of San Francisco. For Sc-Fi fans, a visit to the Bay Area isn’t complete unless you stop by Borderlands. What a fucking great bookstore. If I owned a bookstore, I’d want it to be like Borderlands.

  • When I lived in Tacoma I had all the local bookstores scoped out so I knew just where to go for what sort of book. Want a lurid paperback? Tacoma Book Center, that improbable square wharehouse in the shadow of the Tacoma Dome. For a classy hardcover in good condition it had to be King’s Books on St. Helens. Orca Books down in Olympia was a trek but great ecclectic selection.

    There’s a place in Atlanta near the Chamblee Airport I go to now. It’s got crazy architecture, like you cleaved apart four seperate bookstores and assembled them together to make some undead golum of a place. They’ve got like five cats wandering around there. I think it’s just called “BOOKS” but it’s got a proper name.

  • Jabberwocky Bookshop in Newburyport, MA is wonderful. They have a great fantasy/sci-fi section, a huge used book room that they also use for author events almost every Friday night, and an adjacent indie toy store that I can wander with my kid to keep him busy while I skim through an armload of books. They also host sand mandalas and meditation classes by Tibetan monks, and they recently celebrated their 40th birthday with a huge parking lot party complete with a blues rock band and free drinks for the town. Sue Little, the proprietor, is a local hero!

    So, of course, that’s where I’ll be doing my launch party and first signing event on November 2nd when The Devil of Echo Lake drops.

  • E. Quinn, Bookseller in Blue Ridge, Ga. On the main street, you can chat with Ed about his first editions, his local wines for sale or the medieval manuscript pages on the wall. I never leave there empty handed. And there’s good eats nearby, too.

  • Alice K, Malaprop’s is all kinds of awesome. There’s also a great used-and-rare-bookshop in Asheville, on the other side of the downtown area, with a fair share of gorgeous-but-affordable books.

    In the Bay Area, I love my local, Diesel Books, on College in Oakland. They do great readings and events in a space that’s just the right size, and they pick good stuff in a whole bunch of genres. Also Mrs. Dalloway’s in Berkeley, Moe’s in Berkeley, Green Apple in SF (best used selection around). Smaller stores: Christopher’s Books in Potrero Hill SF is my old local, and I love them with a passion. String Box Books. Bibliohead in Hayes Valley. Phoenix Books in Noe Valley and Red Hill Books in Bernal Heights. The Books Inc. in the Ferry Building. The Depot in Mill Valley. Book Passage in Corte Madera – great reading series there, too. Bird & Beckett in Glen Park, SF, which also hosts great jazz. That little place in Orinda across from the movie theater…

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