As writers and readers, we often find one of our best friends is the independent bookstore ˗ especially if we publish with a small, independent press or self-publish. The indies provide us with a comfortable, and vital, setting to do our readings/signings. They give us a place where we have a ball sharing our work with readers and writers, old friends and new. Where major chains wouldn’t consider carrying our books, it’s the indies that get our work in front of the public. And this flexibility opens up access to all kinds of unique reading possibilities for everyone.
What’s more, independent bookstores provide us with an apt setting (frequently along with tasty comestibles and drinks) to share or explore new ideas by participating in or running workshops or writing groups. And don’t forget, they often also offer all of us a comfortable place to sit down and read our latest discovery, accompanied by something delicious.
So, what can we do now that sheltering in place is the new normal? A better question is what can we do for the indies now that they have been forced to close their doors indefinitely? Here’s one answer. Fortunately, for the indies and for readers and writers alike, many of the owners of our “literary” meccas are resilient, having found a way at least to provide for our reading needs through on-line shopping, which also supports independent authors as well.
Living in the Worcester area, rich with indies, I can recommend several that will at least meet your reading needs. Annie’s Bookstop is a delightful hole-in-the-wall on James Street that specializes in science fiction, horror, and mystery, as well children’s books and local authors of all stripes. The Booklovers’ Gourmet in Webster also features many local and small press authors, as well an extensive collection of children’s literature and beautiful crafts. Root and Press may be a in a small space, but it doesn’t really matter if you’re ordering on-line: local and independent authors, as well as subjects ranging from philosophy to business to mystery to children’s books. A new kid on the block is Tidepool Books, which owners Jo and Huck Truesdell had the intestinal fortitude to open in the midst of all these shutdowns. But you can still order on-line from them.
The beauty is that even if you don’t live near Worcester, you can still order from these folks because everything is done on line. Of course, you may have independent bookstores near you that you love ˗ so, support them if they offer on-line services. Or, heck, explore other stores around the country, since they’re as accessible as your computer and the postal service allow. We’ve all still got to read.
There’s also a third, vital way you could support independent bookstores. #SaveIndieBookstores partners with the American Booksellers Association and the Book Industry Charitable Foundation. Your contributions here will be used to help keep independent bookstores in need going, accepting donations to the end of 2020. Our indies have given us so much, made our lives as readers and writers so much better. It would be wonderful, with so many of these opportunities, if we helped ensure that the bookstores that we have enjoyed so tremendously could still be alive to open their doors when the day comes.
Sharon Healy-Yang is author of the Jessica Minton mystery series published by TouchPoint Press and is currently SinC-NE Member at Large for Central and Western Massachusetts.