I’ve spent every afternoon this past week wandering, reading, and writing in the wonderful BookPeople Independent Bookstore in Austin, Texas. I consider myself a bit of a connoisseur of bookstores and I know what I like, and don’t like, in a bookstore. Here are four things that I love about independent bookstores.
Four THINGS I LOVE ABOUT INDEPENDENT BOOKSTORES on Friday
Lots of books but specific specialties
A bookstore needs to have books, obviously, but too often the larger chain books stores have a huge variety of different genres but little depth within the genre. BookPeople has an amazing children’s section; Anderson’s Bookshop in Naperville, Illinois, highlights new fiction; and Murder by the Book in Houston . . . well, that is self-explanatory. What I love is that these bookstores realize that they can’t be everything to everyone so they embrace one or a few genres and really provide great depth and understanding to that genre.
I have also found the even if a certain genre isn’t their genre, independent bookstores can provide books that a bit off the beaten path. I find the mystery section at BookPeople to focus less on cozy and mainstream mysteries, but instead I have found more international authors or less known series. It was at BookPeople that I discovered Mark Pryor, Brad Parks, and M. L. Longworth.
Employees are true book lovers
I think there is a box on the application for independent bookstores that states employees MUST love books. I find that employees that I have spoken with are well-read and happy to share advice or suggestions, but they also understand that sometimes customers just want to peruse. Some employees of the larger chain bookstores are knowledgeable, but I often find that they aren’t as passionate about what they selling as I am about what I am reading.
I love to talk to a bookseller and state a few of my favorite authors. A good bookseller can understand the interests of a reader based on favorites and provide ideas for new authors.
Not extraneous “junk”
Independent bookstores sell books . . . not covers for Nooks, not Harry Potter Legos, not action figures or educational games . . . books. Precious floorspace is filled with books. Now, you will find the occasional writing journal, books themed t-shirts, and quirky tchotchkes that compliment a book purchase or book gift, but the real reason anyone enters the door is to look at books!
Welcoming places to read, enjoy, and get lost in the books
Chairs and couches stuck in odd corners, quiet nooks to settle in, stools to ascend tall shelves or sit on as you investigate the lower shelves. The environment has soothing classic music playing and the atmosphere is one of relaxation and enjoyment. Not as quiet as a library, but still soothing and inviting.
Independent bookstores also seem to have the best cafes! Tasty treats and delectable drinks to enjoy while reading. Books, chocolate, and tea . . . ah, perfection!
How about you? What are your favorite independent bookstores?