So I hear that today is Buy Indie Day, a day you celebrate by buying a book at your local independent bookstore. You know this is more relevant to my interests than Beltane, so I thought I’d talk it up here.
There are as many reasons to shop at indie bookstores as there are stores. One of the important ones, though, even if you aren’t kneejerk anti-corporate like the average Portlander (seriously, I once met a raving anti-corporate hipster getting trained to work for Starbucks here), is that books are one of the most crucial forms of ‘speech’. An independent bookstore can provide a more diverse perspective than a big store may be interested in doing; many of them sell used books, making sure ideas are cheap and stay in circulation. Whether they have a specific focus — mystery books, feminism, local authors, poetry, et c. — or not, each store provides its own set of books and possibilities, not one mandated from further up or dictated purely by market forces.
To be honest, I have a hard time even formulating cogent arguments for why you should go to your local independent bookseller. It feels like arguing that you should try drinking water, or breathing air. I grew up piling in the car every other weekend for a family junket to Powell’s downtown. We didn’t usually have a specific book on our minds, or a particular birthday to buy for. We just liked going there, walking our little instinctive circuit — in my case and my dad’s, an in-depth look at the Paleontology/Dinosaurs shelves, then a quick search of Photography, followed by a cruise of sci-fi — seeing what we could see.
That’s one of the beauties of the indie bookstore, I think. You never know what you’re going to find. You venture into a little storefront in a strange town because that bookstore could hold anything from a treasure trove of old pulp paperbacks to an extensive collection of Civil War history and memoir, from a labyrinth of bursting shelves to a fabulous place to drink coffee and read. You could find bargains or forgotten childhood joys, or just a way to soak away an hour in the shelves and booksmells of a new place. Even a bookstore you know surprises you every time.
So hit the IndieBound Store Finder and buy a book near you today. Who knows what you’ll find?