• Marcy Farrey

Love books? Love shopping independent and local?

There's a day just for that!

Saturday indie bookstores around the country kick off the 5th annual Independent Bookstore Day. The last couple years, Crosby and I have celebrated in Chicago, participating in the #ChiLoveBooks Challenge. This year, we are excited to celebrate in a new city: San Diego. We'll share what our weekend was like here on indieland.net, and I’ll be posting photos on Instagram throughout the weekend.

Of course I am writing to promote this great event, and you can find out what’s happening in your city over on the Independent Bookstore Day website. But I also wanted to talk about why this day and these bookstores are so important and deserving of our support – not just this weekend, but all year long.

A series of tweets from The Raven Book Store in Lawrence, Kansas earlier this month sparked a lot of discussion in the indie bookstore world and ended up earning the attention of the Chicago Tribune. The thread so perfectly summarizes why you should support your indie bookstore that I absolutely had to mention (and applaud it) here on indieland. You can view the original thread on their Twitter account, and you can also view it on Instagram.

Here’s a summary:

  • The store owner overheard a customer say that she can buy a new hardcover book online for much less.

  • The store owner explains the price he pays to the publisher for that book.

  • If he sold it at the same price as the online retailer, he’d make less than 50 cents per book.

  • If he sold all his books at prices that low, he couldn't keep the store open more than a few days.

  • Massive online retailers sell a lot more than books and therefore can afford to lose money on their books, while making up the profits elsewhere.

  • Indie bookstores cannot make up that difference easily.

  • Remember that indie bookstores provide a lot of value an online store can’t. They provide a place for the community to gather, they host author events, they create jobs, they pay taxes, and on the list goes...

  • Buying more online and less at your local stores will lead to more and more indie businesses closing in your neighborhood.

And he ends perfectly with this statement: “A cheap book still has a high cost.”

It definitely does. And that’s not a cost I’m willing to pay…which is perhaps why I rarely leave a local bookstore empty-handed and my bookshelves are bursting. (Marie Kondo would not approve.)

I hope that equipping more people with the knowledge of this cost will make them think twice about buying books from large online retailers. Yes, you can save a few dollars, but a purchase at a local store gives back to the community you live in -- it's an investment in your community's future, and therefore in yours as well. After all, don't we all want our communities and neighborhoods to not only exist but thrive a few years from now?

So on the eve of Independent Bookstore Day, I want to remind all book lovers to get out there and celebrate, and do your best to always think of your local shops first. (If you’re on a tight budget, don’t forget about your local independent used bookstores, as they can have some great deals and deserve some love, too.)

If you’re a reader of indieland, you probably already know much of this, but spread the word to your friends and family! Bring them to an indie store with you. Like and retweet the thread from The Raven Book Store. There are so many little ways you can show your support. Now get out there and enjoy visiting your local stores!

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