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Why I love to Shop at Indie Bookstores

Posted on Mon, Aug 1 2016 9:00 am by By Emylisa Warrick


This past week of traveling has revived my love for independent bookstores. They’re everywhere! Rather than go to a big-box store, why not visit Seminary Co-Op Bookstore in Chicago, Illinois; Politics and Prose in Washington, D.C.; or Tattered Cover Bookstore in Denver?

Here are my top five reasons of why I love to shop at indie bookstores.

1. Each bookstore has its own charm and appeal, whether it’s a resident animal or two roaming around or decoration that really speaks to its mission.

Caption: Once Upon a Crime in Minneapolis, MN

2. Supporting local businesses always feels good, and, at the same time, independent bookstores are magnets for their surrounding community. You can meet the bibliophiles who reside in the area and get the scoop on not-to-miss attractions, reputable restaurants, as well as swap book notes on the latest bestseller.

3. If you’re a dedicated customer, you can cultivate a relationship with the employees. They’ll learn your tastes and make recommendations accordingly. They’ll have a copy on reserve for you when the next poetry collection or mystery thriller from your to-read list comes into the store.

Caption: I hadn’t read Sharon Olds, so I asked an employee at Prairie Lights about where to start. She recommended Stag’s Leap.

4. There is usually a shelf dedicated to local or regional authors. Whether you want to rekindle your love for your hometown or discover something new about a place you’ve always visited, browsing these shelves connects you to the community.

5. A good indie publisher is sometimes hard to find at a big-box store, while independent bookstores usually try to be more diverse and equitable with their inventory. Indie bookstores also offer local art, an eclectic postcard and card collection, and unique gifts for the lover of literature in your life.

Caption: I bought these goodies from Watermark Books and Café. My favorite purchase is the Bartleby tote. I also picked up Night Sky with Exit Wounds by Ocean Vuong (Coffee House Press).

You could be at home or on vacation, but go ahead and seek out your local independent bookstore. Some great books and community await!

Emylisa Warrick is the summer 2016 Marketing and Communications Intern for the Loft. She is a Poetry MFA Candidate at the University of South Carolina and the Poetry Editor for Yemassee. She is also a contributor to The MFA Years blog.