Good News for Bookstores?

Over the last year or so, Poets & Writers has been profiling different indie bookstores around the country, while running a few feature stories about the return of the bookstore. One of the bookstores they profiled was Parnassus Books, run by best-selling novelist Anne Patchett. After I read the article and the nice write-up in The New York Times a few years ago, I thought, well, it’s great that Patchett’s Tennessee-based bookstore is doing so well, but is the success simply because Patchett is famous?

There is a recent poll, however, that should be good news for bookstores. Rasmussen recently found that 75 percent of American adults would rather read a print book as opposed to an e-book. It has yet to be determined whether or not this will translate into success for bookstores and perhaps the growth of small, indie bookstores in communities, but it does prove that despite the e-reader fad of the last several years, people like reading print. The poll also found that 66 percent would rather read a newspaper in print as opposed to online. What is unclear, however, is whether or not this would be true for younger people. The poll was mostly conducted through LAN lines, and most younger people only have cell phones. It would be interesting to conduct another poll, say on people ages 18-30. Would the results be different?

At the very least, the poll provides some good news for bookstores. People still like print!

Don’t Forget the Indie Bookstores This Holiday Season

The Atlantic has a wonderful feature story in its current issue about novelist Ann Patchett’s Nashville bookstore, Parnassus Books. The article, written by Patchett, makes a compelling case for indie bookstores and highlights how well her store is doing, so well that she has several orders to fill a day. The bestselling author notes that indie bookstores are a true benefit to the local community, especially since most of them host events and author readings that foster intellectual discussion and allow audience members to interact with writers and have books signed. When asked about the age of the e-reader, Patchett says that most indie bookstores do sell e-books, so it’s possible to shop at such stores and still read a book on your I-Pad.

The article made me miss the bookstores I used to frequent, especially Anthology New and Used Books in Scranton, which used to host several community events, before it closed in 2011. Any writer will tell you that having an indie bookstore in a community only makes for a stronger local literary scene. They provide a homebase, a meeting space, thus building community. Over the last few years, I’ve read poetry at several indie bookstores throughout the tri-state area. Here is a list of some of my favorites, and most of them sell stock online.

Sellers Used Books and Fine Art: Located in Jim Thorpe, this bookstore is run by fine artist, Randall Sellers. He has hundreds of books for sale, used and at a fair price.

The Doylestown Bookshop: This store mostly has new books, across all genres. It also has a strong monthly poetry series that includes one featured reader, then an open mic. The store’s website is easy to navigate, so you can shop from home.

Farley’s Bookshop: Located in the historic town of New Hope, this store has the most impressive selection of poetry I’ve seen at any bookstore I’ve visted in PA. Furthermore, the store supports several indie presses/publishers. It also has a strong, well-known monthly poetry series that includes a featured reader and open mic.

The Wise Owl Bookstore: Located in West Reading, this bookstore is quaint and small, but has some surprising, interesting selections and several community events.

Autumn Leaves Bookstore: This is a large new and used bookstore located at the Itacha Commons, in Ithaca, NY.  If you ever go there, make sure to stop by the record store in the basement and the Wise Owl Cafe on the top floor.

Caroll & Caroll Booksellers: Located in Stroudburg’s downtown, this store has rows and rows of used books, with a heavy concentration in fiction. It’s worth visiting if you’re in the Poconos, especially since the store doesn’t have much of an online presence.

RiverRead Books:  This Binghamton, NY-based store has several community events and a decent selection of stock that can be purchased online or at the store. Check it out.

I’m sure there are some stores I’m forgetting, but these are the ones I know well because I’ve read at them over the last year or two, and I came home with several books that I purchased. If you have an indie bookstore in your community, please support it. As Patchett mentions in her article, the success of indie bookstores depends largely on the power of the consumer and the choices we make with our money.