I love independent bookstores. I don’t think of them as being a salon of knowledge or a place to meet people and exchange ideas, I think of an indie as being a second home.
Just walking into an independent bookstore and observing its physical layout excites me. My senses become heightened. I observe the number of floors it has, its alcoves and nooks, and the way titles are displayed, but it is the smell of the books (and occasionally of coffee) that draws me in. It is immaterial whether the books are neatly arranged, specialized by genre, or just haphazardly shoved into any available space. I pace the aisles absorbing the colors of titles and covers, slowing only if one catches my eye to pull it from the shelves. I turn it over to read the blurb on the back before glancing at a few pages between the covers. My reaction is immediate: add it to my maybe pile or relegate it back to the shelf as boring.
Obviously, I can address the bookshelves of a superstore in the same way, and I often do, but I don’t explore as much in a superstore as I will in an indie. I tend to be more of a designated shopper in a superstore — looking for the mystery on aisle 27 or checking out the blue light special on aisle 11. The same is true for me when I shop online. In an independent store, I browse more. I also shyly engage in conversation with the staff as I begin to recognize the same faces each time I visit the store. As I get to know them, I immediately wonder what gem will become mine because one of the familiar faces I trust recommends a book as a personal favorite.
I always leave any sized bookstore having made a purchase, but I can guarantee that I will leave an independent bookstore with far more books than I intended to buy. What about you?
Debra H. Goldstein’s new mystery, Maze in Blue, will be available by May 1 from independent bookstores, including Little Professor Book Center (www.littleprofessorhomewood.com ) and Jim Reed Books (www.jimreedbooks.com) as well as online at www.amazon.com.