Given this hobby and the joy I derive from it, I, of course, have a strong allegiance to these stores and do my best to support them. In that vein, The Jess and I watched an amazing and unsettling program on PBS this morning entitled "Paperback Dreams." This program focused on two important and vibrant stores in the Bay Area: Cody's Books in Berkeley and Kepler's Books in Menlo Park.
The journey of these stores, the influence they and other similar stores have in our communities, and the significant chance (or reality) of them failing were explored in a fascinating and telling fashion. You can buy the DVD or click here to find out when it's on your local PBS network.
I've written about this subject before, but was spurred to bring it up again by the facts brought up in this program. These stores are a vital part of our communities, and when they're gone, they stay gone. They face tremendous pressure from many sides, but mostly from the sterile and soulless chain bookstores (Barnes and Noble, Borders) as well as big-box stores (Target, Costco, Walmart) that carry new releases right next to the lawn furniture.
Now more than ever these independent bookstores need our support. In tough economic times, we all need to make careful and considered decisions on where our money goes. So what's the difference when you shop at an independent store? The wonderful website indiebound.org spells it out, as well as allowing you to find local stores in your community.
"When you shop at an independently-owned business, your entire community benefits:
- Spend $100 at a local and $68 of that stays in your community. Spend the same $100 at a national chain, and your community only sees $43.
- Local businesses create higher-paying jobs for our neighbors.
- More of your taxes are reinvested in your community--where they belong
- Buying local means less packaging, less transportation, and a smaller carbon footprint.
- Shopping in a local business district means less infrastructure, less maintenance, and more money to beautify your community.
- Local retailers are your friends and neighbors—support them and they’ll support you.
- Local businesses donate to charities at more than twice the rate of national chains.
- More independents means more choice, more diversity, and a truly unique community"
If you want to shop online, don't just leap to Amazon, as most independent stores have their entire stock easily searchable and available. The best example is the wondrous Powell's Books in Portland, which has everything and will deliver virtually anywhere. You can even use Amazon and still support independent bookstores. Simply select your book and click on the "used and new" link in the center of the page. This gives you access to a host of private sellers that you can support with your purchase.
Spending money is a conscious act, so we have a responsibility to be conscious of where our money is going when we spend it. That said, here are some links to independent stores throughout California. Please feel free to send me other stores via comment and forward this post to anyone you think may be interested.
Adams Avenue Bookstore
Wahrenbrocks Book House
Green Apple Books
Cody's Books. I include this link to remind us how much of a loss it is when one of these stores closes. Cody's fed minds for 52 years and now it's gone for good.
Menlo Park (near Stanford University)
Angel City Books