Why It’s Important to Support Local Bookshops

January 27, 2020

Why It's Important to Support Local Bookshops

Visiting an independent bookstore is one of those experiences that never feel the same way twice. Last time I visited my local bookshop, my friends and I stepped inside to greet a small German Shepherd lounging in an arm chair. As you entered passed the non-fiction books and endless copies of Stephen King novels, you found a world of records, comic books, and any other oddities that seemed to fit the atmosphere. Where else would one find these sorts of thing? One of my favorite memories from this store was taking a photo with the infamous life-size Jar Jar Binks statue. I’ve explored others as well who specialize in various genres or authors depending on the seller. You don’t get many of those dream-like days with friends shuffling through old books and records. Take advantage and explore.

Books use significantly less greenhouse gases during production in comparison to the average e-reader. Furthermore, shopping for thrifted or used books at your local bookstore is even more environmental friendly. When you buy a used book, you are not contributing to the mass production of new books. You allow the book a new life and donating it back to stores like these continues that cycle. Reading a used book can sometimes comes with the pleasure of having someone else’s annotations already inside. You get a chance to experience your own thoughts and analysis of the book as well as theirs. In the past, I’ve bought pre-annotated books for my English classes and the annotations allowed me another perspective alongside my own and those of my classmates from discussions.

If you are into collecting books as well, visiting local bookstores can also open your eyes to copies of books you never even knew existed. I found a copy of one of my favorite book in a local bookstore recently. The only copy that was left was the British cover, which was completely different from the American one you could find in Barnes and Noble. Throughout my time sorting through shelves, I’ve also seen “redone” copies of books in these types of stores as well. I once saw a book completely painted over with a new cover that matched a scene in the book. It was beautiful, and how many people could say they own a cover like this? I have also come across books with notes left inside, prayers, photos, or poetry that poeple have left for the next person to find. these books have lives just like our own. They travel and ride alongside their reader throughout life. It is how one shares life with a book that makes reading special.

Furthermore, used bookstores run off of the cycle of loyal members. Most bookstores will accept donated books for store credit. Many bookstores also support other local charities by regularly donating a portion of their  proceeds. Not only do the local members of the community benefit from this, but travelers as well. Tourists and travelers feed greatly into this system as well, but they swell in seasons. The shores and waterways of Maryland flood with tourists during the warm months and dry up when the leaves turn, but those who stay and continue to visit and support the seller are what keeps small stores like these alive. I’ve traveled up and down the east coast but some of my favorites memories have been exploring the odd stores and shops among the small towns.

Shopping locally gives back directly to your community. You are supporting the hardworking and dedicated members of your town that you see daily, not a large company owner mass producing “what the consumer craves.” It is a more personal interaction and allows you to build relationships with those a part of your community. In many ways, small communities are based of these regular interactions. Make sure to look into your local shops and what programs they have. Many bookstores run poetry slams or book drives. I know some bookstores who partner with local coffee shops to hold book clubs or fundraiser events. Getting in touch with those in your community can open you up to opportunities around looking for members just like you.

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