Our usually reliable friends at GalleyCat had a post I included in the Morning Links which I have not stopped thinking about. The writer, Maryann Yin, contemplates the New Year’s Resolution phenomenon and proposes that those still in search of a worthy goal consider supporting independent bookstores.

The idea originated with a writer from Bustle who suggests that indie bookstores are more then just shops for books; they are also event spaces, philanthropic organizations and owners of pets. And it’s there that this ‘resolution’ lost me. I am supposed to support them because they have pets? My dad has four pets in his home, and as yet there has been no pet-owning tax for me to visit him. And you know, he does support philanthropic causes too…

support independent bookstores
President Obama at Politics & Prose on Small Business Saturday

My point is, to me an independent bookstore is a business. If they offer a product or service which interests me, I will support them and pay for that product or service. We do have a local specialty bookstore which sells only cookbooks, and I have heard they run fabulous book signing events where authors actually cook from their books and paying patrons can not just buy a book but taste the food too. I have seen other bookstores offer kid-themed events, or special bundles of some kind. I have recently seen a store offering a special ‘Alice Munro bundle’ in honour of her Nobel Prize win, and I applaud such creativity.

But to deserve my money simply for existing? No. To be worthy of a new year’s resolution ‘goal’ when most businesses would be laughed at merely for the suggesting of such a thing? No, no, no. Sell stuff I want, and I will support you. Fail to read the market and offer what people are looking for, and frankly, I think you deserve whatever consequences. Will I be supporting independent bookstores this year? Sure, if they have good stuff I want. But that is a commerce decision, not a philosophical one, and I think that is the way it should be.

Photo Credit: Elaine Showalter @ecshowalter

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"I’m a journalist, a teacher and an e-book fiend. I work as a French teacher at a K-3 private school. I use drama, music, puppets, props and all manner of tech in my job, and I love it. I enjoy moving between all the classes and having a relationship with each child in the school. Kids are hilarious, and I enjoy watching them grow and learn. My current device of choice for reading is my Amazon Kindle Touch, but I have owned or used devices by Sony, Kobo, Aluratek and others. I also read on my tablet devices using the Kindle app, and I enjoy synching between them, so that I’m always up to date no matter where I am or what I have with me."


  1. Seattle has some excellent independent bookstores. I’m fond of Eliot Bay Books. But I don’t live in the city and I’m no longer commuting there daily. It’s not realistic to drive 40 to 50 minutes then pay for parking but a few times per year just to browse. Don’t get me wrong, it is a really good bookstore, yet it can’t be the main place I buy books.

    There is a B&N a block away from a favorite lunch spot; but the stock is so thin and geared towards popularity I almost never go there.

    So how should I support independent bookstore?

  2. I remember the rise of the supermarket and the fall of those many specialty shops (meat, fish, bakery, etc.). While I miss certain aspects of that experience, I would firmly resist being dragged back to that time. So, too, with hardware, books and general merchandise.
    The myth of the golden past is seductive but, after all, it is a myth. It’s not something that we can actually go back to.

  3. There aren’t many indie bookstores that I know of close to where I live, but there are a number of them in New York City. Even though NYC is about 20 minutes away, I try to avoid heading into the city whenever possible.

    However, a comic shop opened about a mile from about six months ago. I go there and will order comics and trade paperbacks even if they don’t have them in stock because I want to support the store. I know I could buy them for cheaper on ebay or Amazon, but I enjoy having the local shop around.

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