Breath of Fresh Air in the Sea of Sameness

“Indie Bookstores Rising” was a recent feature in New York magazine that listed 13 new and renewed indie bookstores in and around the city. Although they are all bookstores, no two look or feel the same. Step inside any of them and you can’t help but stop and take in a deep breath. You’re in a one-of-a-kind place.

Indie booksellers often will explain that customers come in with visiting friends and show ‘our bookstore’ to their guests, introducing them to the owner, favorite booksellers, and most frequented sections. A great community bookstore is a sign of civic pride, a sign that the community has its priorities straight and doesn’t look like Anytown, USA.

Beyond the books, gifts, and other items for the reading lifestyle, an indie bookstore has some intangible elements that can be felt, but can’t be replicated by the corporate entities. It might be the creaky floors and soulful wooden tables. Maybe it’s the display of what community book groups are reading. It could be that fun play area inside the lighthouse in the kid’s section. Or, it’s a familiar face ready to recommend some new amazing fiction or introduce you to a debut author you’ve never heard of.

When an area has been taken over by corporate retail outlets and the pendulum has swung so far away from locally-owned businesses, people find the quaint, funky store a refreshing break from the sea of sameness.

Indie bookstores are a sign that some authenticity still exists. Choosing an indie bookstore is consistent with our new awareness of the food we eat, where we bank, how Wall Street profits don’t enrich our local economies, who funds the local Little League teams, and where we can find something interesting and unique close in your own community.

“Indie” is now becoming a lifestyle choice that permeates the lives of a growing number of people. Just as we’ve seen in New York City, there’s growing support for indie bookstores and the much larger “shop local” movement. How refreshing.

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