My Bookstore by Ronald Rice is full of essays written by authors about their favorite independent bookstores. I haven’t completed reading this one yet, I have about a fourth of the book left to read. This is one of the books that I pick up whenever I am in the mood to read it a little knowing I wouldn’t be completing it in a month. It’s interesting to see what different authors appreciate in their local bookstores. Most love the way the owners arrange book signings and promote their work. Most owners appear to help them with research and suggest books related to whatever subject they need information about for the works in progress. Many owners hand sell their books.
Since I am reading it during the pandemic, once I have completed it, I plan to do a little research to see which of these indie bookstores survive the pandemic. This is strictly out of my own curiosity. I have always thought it would be fun to travel and check out indie bookstores, so I think that is why this book appealed to me. I don’t recognize the majority of authors but that too gives me something to research in the future. If I am introduced to a book from an (unknown to me) author, it might open up new books to read.
So far, this has been an enjoyable read but it isn’t the kind of book I could sit down and read though in a short period of time. Most of the essays are basically praising book stores so kind of repetitious.
I would recommend this book to book lovers because of everything addressed above. I do like the cover and I will give it a proper review once I have completed it and I may be able to share some of my research about how the pandemic has affected the bookstores listed.
I hope I find that all of the bookstores are still open and serving readers but even without the pandemic, I think that may be impossible. I have visited the independents that I am aware of in my area. The main one is Beaverdale Books. I wish I could say it is my favorite, I really do, but it isn’t. It is very small and every time I visited it before the pandemic, I often felt a little claustrophobic. I did attend both writer’s and a reader’s groups there before. The writer’s group didn’t meet my needs at the time and the mystery reader’s group felt closed even though they opened it to the public. I was surprised that the store was unable to buy some of the books for the reader’s group. I don’t know enough about how book stores work so it is still a mystery to me. I also haven’t felt as welcome there as you would think a reader would. Whenever I have walked in there I have never had the owner or staff ever act as though they remembered me. I have been there several times over the years for author talks and to find books locally that I was unable to find at the local Barnes and Noble. I usually tried the Independent bookstore as a last resort before ordering it on-line. I do think the fact that I have a membership at Barnes and Noble that offers a discount makes it more painful to pay more for books just to say I bought it from an independent when that independent has not attempted to make me welcome when I do visit.
This independent is usually the bookstore who is asked to provide books for author talks that the local library conducts each year. I dutifully purchase books at that time when I want them autographed. So I do feel that I have contributed to their being able to stay open. But after reading this book, I feel like I am missing the same experience other’s have with their local independent bookstores. I wonder if it is because I am a reader instead of an author because I do have author friends who love our independent. I do wish them well. I want to see all bookstores thrive.
I do believe the pandemic has affected everything that we purchase. I have bought both kindle books as well as a lot more books from Amazon this past year. I think part of it is the fear of Covid and it is so easy to order on-line. I also think knowing I have a package coming gives me something to look forward to so it may have become more addictive to use Amazon.
Barnes and Noble has been open throughout most of the pandemic and for some reason, I have felt more safe their. I told my husband that I believe it is because readers are smarter than those who don’t and have rarely see anyone ignore the mask mandate. The one person I did see was in the café and the barista said he couldn’t be served without a mask. I usually go during the middle of the week when most people are working so the store is never too crowded. The store enforces mask wearing and I do not linger near others. I don’t spend a lot of time there, just enough to browse and then I head back home.
I have had my first Covid vaccine along with my hubby. We are waiting to get the second in a couple weeks. Reading has helped make our situation better. I have been able to escape in a lot of books this past year. Though it is not as satisfying as real travel, it will suffice for now. How have you been coping? Do you buy strictly from independent book stores or not? How are you doing? I feel that we will be getting back to a more normal life. I hope that rather than settle for normal, we can continue to work to make it better. I hope that our struggle will pay off and like the independent book stores, we too survive.
Until next time,