Saturday, November 23, 2013

Reasons to Love Local Bookstores

There are so many reasons to love bookstores, especially independent ones. They provide a warm and inviting atmosphere that welcomes browsing, enabling you to discover great books that you may never have come across otherwise.

Image via seventyone12 on Flickr

Indeed, the "luxury of browsing" is one of the "10 Lovable Things About Brick-and-Mortar Bookstores," according to BuzzFeed. Another is author events, where you can see big names in person for the cost of a book...or oftentimes for free. I've lost count of how many shining stars in the fields of music, literature, photography, stage, and screen that I've seen at local bookstores, including Lou Reed, Norman Mailer, Joan Didion, Annie Leibovitz, and Alan Cumming.

Bookstores also provide a sense of community. This is especially so with the smaller, more specialized booksellers, such as feminist, LGBT, and activist bookshops. Typically, they cultivate a sense of community by offering in-store volunteer opportunities, meeting space for like-minded people, and events of interest to those who frequent such neighborhood establishments. For a while, I volunteered at a women's bookstore, and I was embraced by a wonderfully diverse and immensely friendly group of people. It was definitely one of the more gratifying experiences in my life.

Image via Project Latte on Flickr

Another alluring aspect of brick-and-mortar bookstores is the cafe. Normally I don't patronize the cafe in bookstores because I'm too busy browsing the shelves (and once I find a book, I buy it and then I'm gone). Although for a brief time, a local bookstore had this hard-to-pass-up special where if you purchased books totaling X amount, you could get lunch from its cafe for free - and I'm talking about a full-sized sandwich, chips (or crisps, if you're in the UK), and a beverage. You better believe I went to the bookstore cafe then! But if you go to almost any area bookstore, you'll find that the cafe is the most popular place in the store.

Browsing, a sense of community, and the cafe are just three of the "10 Lovable Things About Brick-and-Mortar Bookstores." To find out all 10, see the BuzzFeed article HERE. And go to your local bookstore to discover more to add to the list!

The above photos are of Housing Works Bookstore Cafe in New York City.

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