Independent Bookstores

Robert Reich in an article in the New York Times called "Don't Blame Wal-Mart" made this comment, "The problem is, the choices we make in the market don't fully reflect our values as workers or as citizens. I didn't want our community bookstore in Cambridge, Mass., to close (as it did last fall) yet I still bought lots of books from"

This got me to thinking about the whole discussion about the need for independent bookstores. Here in flyover country the death of bookstores to Barnes and Nobles and Borders is not seen as much. In many areas of flyover country when a Border's or Barnes and Nobles opened it was the first good bookstore to be available to people. The bookstores that did tend to get shut down by the bigger stores coming in was the Walden Books at the mall. Walden Books is not exactly "The Strand" or "Powells" so when they folded there was not a huge sense of loss. In my area most of the independent booksellers are used book dealers and those shops still exist so the incoming Borders just added to the diversity but did not subtract from it.
Here is a hypothetical. There is a bookstore called Joe's Books that is independent. Joe's Books is your favorite bookstore and it has everything you look for in a bookstore. What does Joe's have? Tell me what items you would look for in a bookstore. If I could just wave a magic wand and drop a bookstore into your town that meets all your needs and expectations what would it contain? What services would it offer? What books would it carry? How big would it be?


Joseph Beth is our (Lexington, KY's) local book seller. It's a great size (big!) and has a huge selection of books. I rarely don't find what I'm looking for. Well except for my climbing guidebooks and some specality periodicals, I bet if I asked though they would order the guidebooks and consider the periodicals. Their staff is very helpful and friendly. Not just one or two but every staff memeber that I have talked to is. Their fairly frequent sales are nice. Though when they have the big ones, like the %20 off one this Friday, the parking lot is insane, packed beyond belief. I think I can count the number of times I've come out of their without buying something on one hand.

I guess I'm saying is that I have a Joe's Books already.

One thing I would like is a meeting room that book clubs could use. And if the book store could have it's own book club - even better. Just think about it - what kind of people go to book clubs? Readers. What kind of customers would you like at your book store? Readers again. And wouldn't it be convenient to buy the book where you have your meetings? Oh yes! The room wouldn't have to be fancy, just a few tables and chairs.I would also like for a place for people in the community to be able to post their suggestions of what is a good 'read'. The sales staff at the local big box book retailer has their employees do that and I would prefer to have just the regular folks opinions, not just what the clerks think they should push at the moment.

Yes to both AP and Rochelle's points!

I'm thinking of past and present indie/used bookstores in Philly and outlying areas. Very few of them seem to have sales, so their stock just sits...and sits. New stock crowds the aisles, making it hazardous to navigate and very unlikely that I'll actually see what's new.

erm...I mean lordjim and AP's points. Reading too many entries this morning, not enough coffee.

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