Our thanks to author Bob Eckstein for this guest contribution.
In the past three years I’ve heard a lot of stories (over 300 documented) that took place in bookstores as part of my research which has shaped my appreciation for independent bookstores and their importance. To celebrate Independent Bookstore Day, April 29th, here is a list of five reasons one should buy books locally in independent bookstores, instead of online:
Supporting Main Street.
Online vendors don’t pay your specific town’s taxes and help support your school, keep the post office and other local utilities afloat and attract traffic to the other establishments on Main Street. Money spent there is money spent on yourself. It may cost a little extra, but aren’t you worth it?
If you shop in person you will not mistakenly buy the wrong format or two copies. Last Christmas my mother bragged she did all her shopping online…and wound up accidentally buying two of everything. I got a book on how to cope with restless leg syndrome because my sister-in-law has it. I told her how the basis of my new book is a plea NOT to shop online and besides, she shouldn’t be allowed anywhere near computers.
Really, is that what you want? A world where books are brought to your doorstep by drones? What’s next, robot grandpas?
Supporting the Arts.
Local bookstores are venues for musicians, poets, writers, comedians and other artists, giving them a start and their first taste of the brutalities of the arts. Bookstores also multitask as vibrant meeting places for like-minded thinkers and community groups. Your local bookstore is often your town’s crucial cultural hub.
I’m sure there are other reasons I’m not even thinking of…like the tactile experience of the physical book browsing, discovering new books you never imagined coming across, helping your neighbors make a living instead of supporting evil drones, and one of the most frequent stories I heard in the past two years of my research–falling in love with someone you met in a bookstore that you would have never bumped into otherwise.
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Bob Eckstein is a New Yorker cartoonist and author of the New York Times bestseller, Footnotes from the World’s Greatest Bookstores. He is celebrating Independent Bookstore Day a day early by speaking at the Book Cellar in Chicago on Friday April 28th at 7 pm (free).