by Arianna Rebolini
We recently asked members of the BuzzFeed Community to tell us what they love about their local independent bookstores.
Below are some of our favorite examples of how independent bookstores are so much more than stores — how they’re community centers, cultural hubs, and home away from home — and what many are offering for Small Business Saturday.
1. They support local artists.
2. Their staff are more than happy to talk literature with you.
3. Their inventories have a way of getting (pleasantly) overwhelming.
«I think my favorite is The Relay Bookhouse. They have floor-to-ceiling stacks of books, with more piled on the floor that won’t fit on the shelves. It winds everywhere. There is nothing like the feeling of being completely surrounded in books. I can get lost in there for days.
Not only that, the staff are regular, personable, and cannot do enough for you. When I once couldn’t find a book I wanted, they crawled on the floor and dug through stacks with me, since the inventory said they had it in the store. When we couldn’t find it, they ordered it for me, then reordered a new copy when the original order arrived damaged. I adore stopping in when I’m downtown, and I always find a unique surprise hidden in the stacks.»
4. They aren’t afraid to get political.
5. They organize book clubs that will both entertain andchallenge.
6. They foster and encourage imagination.
7. You can feel the history within the pages of their used and antique books.
«Bearly Read Books in Sudbury, MA, is right down the street from my house. The creaky wood floor and floor-to-ceiling collection create a magical atmosphere, and after hours of looking through shelves, there is always more to find. Sitting on the floor flipping through medical texts from the 1800’s has never felt more special!»
8. They’re invested in giving their customers the best possible shopping experience.
9. Sometimes it’s more than a shopping experience — it’s a genuine life experience.
«The Book Barn is one of the best book stores I’ve ever experienced. They have four locations in Niantic, CT, and they have been around for nearly 30 years! They are a used book store, and will buy your books on the spot for store credit (or check if you prefer).
Their main location is a series of outbuildings, sheds, and an actual barn that are great to wander to and through on your hunt for the perfect book. The buildings all have fun names — Ellis Island, Hades, Last Page — and the site has penned goats to visit, a playground, beautiful garden areas, outdoor games and a nice picnic area. They even have a scavenger hunt for the many cats that live there. It’s definitely a place you could spend all day at, and go back again and again.»
10. They cater to their communities.
#smallbusinesssaturday is just around the corner and we can’t wait! To say a huge THANK YOU to our customers, any purchase of $30 or more will come with a free #ProseBeforeBros or “So Many Books, So Little Time” tote while supplies last. Stay tuned for more exciting news about more plans for our original store and @pandpwharf.
«I used to work for Politics and Prose and it was so cool to see how we ordered different books for the different neighborhoods in DC. It was also really cool to support local authors and to get the younger kids excited about reading.» —nicolem4bf05a59e
«There is just so much going on there. I rarely leave without buying something unexpected. I drive 50 miles just to hear famous authors talk about their books. There is no other place like it.» —Jackie Belt
11. They can offer extensive insight into that community’s history.
«My favorite bookstore, The Book Loft, is in a pretty historically rich downtown area (Fernandina Beach/Amelia Island if you’re familiar!) and the entire second floor of this beautiful little bookstore is devoted to books about the area’s history and the pirates who played a part in it. I so much appreciate that they pay homage to it!» —maceybug3162
12. And they often give back.
«Our local bookstore is non-profit and supports free literacy programs — ESL, tutoring for children and adults, GED prep and more. Not only can I find great, rare books cheap, I know that the money I spend there helps others in the community.» —stephaniev23
13. They’re resilient.
14. Honestly, the bookseller/customer relationship can be a truly beautiful thing.
«I work at Porter Square Books in Cambridge, MA. We LOVE our customers and try to learn about them and what they like. We offer crazy personalized help finding your perfect book or presents for friends. Plus, we make sure that authors are fairly compensated for their work, meaning that they can afford to keep writing stories you love.» —sydneyd46c3ff1ba
15. Sometimes a life-changing one.
«My local indie store has definitely changed my life. I started attending book signings there when I was in the darkest period of my life with my depression. The local authors and writers from my community have been so unbelievably kind to me and have even helped me with my own writing. I feel like I actually have a place in my writing community now. I’ve forged so many relationships that have helped me grow as a writer and as a person, and I have several dear friendships that began at this bookstore. Every time I walk in, the staff always recognizes me and asks me how I’m doing. If it weren’t for this place, I don’t think I’d be pursuing my dream of becoming an author.» —hquinn31
16. They make it easy to spend hours and hours there.
«The Reading Room in Watertown, NY. There’s a small area to sit and read and make yourself some free coffee. The owner has a huge local author selection and does author book signings on an almost daily basis and she also does a lot of activities with children. My nephew loves to go in and play with the train table while I browse. The owner orders books for her customers if there’s a book they want but isn’t available in store and the order is usually there within a week.» —deannas4896ca468
17. They host exciting events — sometimes even live music.
18. They can function as meet-ups for people with shared interests.
«Mine is actually our local comic book store, Black Ice Comics in Houghton, MI. The decor is awesome. The woman who owns it is knowledgeable and great to talk to. She always has good recommendations, and hosts lots of fun community events to go to. The selection is great, and anything they don’t have they can get for you. It’s my favorite place to visit.» —Samantha Hoover
19. They connect readers with their favorite authors, both the locals and the big-names.
«What don’t I love about my local bookstore? (Answer: nothing.) It’s called Horizon Books in Traverse City, MI. I’ve been going there for well over 20 years now, and I’m as happy there at the age of 34 that I was at 12 and 22.
I still go there at least two mornings a week before work to read in a quiet space and drink their delicious coffee. I love that it’s remained virtually the same since I was a teen, making it feel so homey. I love walking in and seeing the big display of local authors and books. I love that they do book signings not just from local authors, but big name authors we wouldn’t normally get to meet in my area otherwise. It’s just a great, fun place that’s been in business since 1961, and I hope they stay in business forever.» —mrsh810