I have my local indie bookstore on speed-dial. When I hear about a good book from a friend or read about one online, I press 7 and know I’ll get to talk to one of my favorite humans, a bookseller who knows my name. If they have the book I’m looking for, they’ll hold it for me. And if they don’t, they’ll order it and call me when it comes in.
Whatever the case, I get to stroll in to the store to pick up my book and soak up the book-filled atmosphere, which isn’t like any other bookstore in town. I read the little hand-written shelf tags with book recommendations from the staff. And I get to talk to my bookseller in person. In addition to bringing home the book I called about, I usually find another new book I wouldn’t know about if I’d stayed home in front of my computer screen. In an indie, I know I’ll find books that have been especially chosen for that store, many of which the big corporate stores won’t take a chance on. And that’s good news for writers.
Sure, I can buy books cheaper online. But money isn’t everything. In fact, the money I spend at Indie bookstores goes toward my quality of life, and the life of my local community. That’s because Indie bookstores contribute more to local life than cash. With local owners and employees who know and belong to the community, indies contribute to our unique local character and cultural life.
The good news is that indies are also benefit the local economy. Indie owner and employees live there, which means they spend their paychecks nearby, and that’s good for other local businesses. When Indies need goods and services, they spend those dollars in town. And more of Indie profits stay local, while Big Box Books sends more of its profits back to corporate headquarters. In fact, a recent study found that of every $100 spent at an Indie, $68 sticks around to circulate through the local economy. At Big Box Books, only $43 stays local.
Finally, those sales taxes we all love so much also get funneled into local services like roads, police, schools and parks. The big online booksellers don’t have local payrolls and they don’t charge sales tax, which means that while they save us a few bucks personally, they’re not helping support the communities we live in.
For me, nothing compares to walking into The Booksmith or Mrs. Dalloway’s or any of the dozens of local indies where I live. Browsing shelves that have been curated by people I can talk to makes my life better. The aesthetic and human pleasures feed me. I think they feed all of us.
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Thank you so much for the awesome guest post!