Independent bookstores, sell more than just books, they bring stories to life through the curation by passionate bookstore owners. Through selling books they create a community of readers and writers. The indie bookstore is something that can’t be defined by star ratings, typed reviews, and online book searches. There is something to be said for the tangible feel of a book cover, the flip of the printed pages, and the conversation about an interesting book within the walls of an independent bookstore.
When I was 18, I was invited to spend a summer with my aunt and uncle in Kingston Ontario. My aunt and uncle owned a small independent bookstore called “The Idea Factory”. It was in an old row house on the corner. The bookstore was on the bottom and my aunt, uncle, and three cousins lived upstairs over the store. Ivy clung to the brick siding and grew thick around the doorway and windows. The corner wooden door opened into a labyrinth of old books. It was the kind of bookstore that you could spend days in, sifting through piles of books and shelves bulging with every imaginable type of book from murder mysteries to philosophy tomes, to antiquarian books, and some notable collectables from known and some lesser known authors. They even carried stacks of comic books.
Their bookstore was also a community hub. My uncle sat outside on a lawn chair smoking a pipe, talking philosophy with a neighbor or university professor. My aunt sat in her office tapping out resumes’ (her side business) on her typewriter. College students from the local universities wandered in to find this or that book. Local kids and adults came in for the comic books. Book collectors honed in on collectables.
I found myself drawing my finger along the spines, looking for anything of interest to read in my spare time. Sometimes I had to blow off the dust that had collected on an unsold book. Other times I’d shuffle through a pile of books stacked on the floor.
No matter, the thing is the bookstore had a character all its own. Each book, an entry into another world or viewpoint. It seemed more than a bookstore. It almost felt as if magic lived between the pages of the books. I could imagine at night when the door was locked and the lights were off, the characters from the books would come to life.
So visit your independent bookstore and discover worlds within the pages of new and old books. Stay awhile and talk to the owner or staff. Find out what they like to read or if they have a good suggestion or two. Who knows, you might find an author that draws you back in again and again. Through your local indie bookstore you can discover the worlds within books and a community that surrounds them.
Of course, if you are shopping online, don’t forget many of the indie bookstores also sell online too. Buying from a small independent bookstore, supports local businesses and communities.
Here is an interesting article written by my Aunt Rose about the life of the bookstore, The Idea Factory.
I live in Sierras of South Lake Tahoe and Pilot Hill. These are a few of the local indie bookstores I have discovered. Stop in and check them out.
South Lake Tahoe
El Dorado Hills
I’ll add to this list in the future as I discover more of our local indie bookstores. If you know of a good one in the Sierras, east and west of Lake Tahoe, contact me with the name, location, and website link.