I know I’m not supposed to be posting today, but I wanted to share the article I wrote for the Upper Bucks Free Press(the newspaper I write for) for the April issue! The online version was just published. To see the online version of the newspaper, click HERE (see page 16).
I hope you enjoy the article!
Why We Need Independent Bookstores
Over the summer my family moved to a town that does not have a bookstore. This was very different from where we used to live. I was used to going to a bookstore pretty much anytime I wanted to, if I could get my parents to drive me there. When we moved I realized I took the wonderful bookstores in the Bucks and Montgomery county area for granted (and don’t forget the awesome comic book stores in the area too – Ultimate Comics in the Quakertown Farmers Market, Cyborg One in Doylestown).
Getting a book of your very own is a great experience for kids and adults. Getting it from a small independently owned bookstore is an even greater experience. The people who work in the shop get to know you and will make suggestions to you based on what they think you would like. You don’t get that from shopping online or in a large bookstore. Books might be cheaper ordering them over the internet, but you get a whole lot more from a small local bookstore. Independently owned bookstores are part of the local community. I asked Shelly Plumb, owner of Harleysville Books about being an independent bookstore owner and what stores like hers do for the community.
Erik – Besides selling books, what other great things do independent bookstores bring to a community?
Mrs. Plumb – We’ll for one – we bring AUTHORS! You can meet your favorite authors when you purchase your books online – you only really get the chance to talk with them when they visit your local bookstores. We also provide a place for people to get to know one another. Customers that are neighbors and friends meet us at the bookstore or through our programs customers make new friends. The last thing I can think of is local bookstores, like all local businesses bring money to their community. We provide jobs, pay taxes, donate to schools and local non-profits and we work with other local businesses.
Erik – I also know that the small bookstores in our area offer other great things like book clubs, game nights, fund raisers, learning seminars and other great events for kids and adults. What do you like the most about owning an independent bookstore?
Mrs. Plumb – I love putting a book in someone’s hands and then hearing from them after they have read it how much they liked it! I also love that I get to meet all these really cool authors and that because of Harleysville Books we make it possible for fans to meet their favorite authors.
Erik – I know I met a bunch of great authors at your store (Nick Bruel, Brandon Mull, Debbie Dadey, Mo Willems, Dan Gutman, Peter Lerangis, Jude Watson – WOW! What a great bunch of authors!). I think meeting authors is a great way to get kids into reading. Getting a signed copy of a book is a cool thing to do too. I know that one of the biggest competitors of small bookstores is online sellers. What are some ways that small bookstores like Harleysville Books changes to keep up with technology (like using Skype or selling ebooks)?
Mrs. Plumb – You are right when you say we keep up with technology by skyping with authors, selling Kobo readers and tablets and ebooks in the store and our website. Another way we stay current is by using facebook and twitter to connect with customers and authors.
Erik – Those are awesome ways to stay modern and help your customers even more. Thanks Mrs. Plumb!
In closing I’d like to say, the next time that you are looking for a place to go for some fun, go to your local independently owned bookstore! If you don’t know where your local bookstore is, go to Indiebound.org and search using your zip code.
For book reviews, please visit my web site thiskidreviewsbooks.com.
**NOTE Author Kate Messner just wrote an article about GoodReads being bought by Amazon and how that may hurt indie bookstores. Check it out HERE. She has a great idea to keep supporting local bookstores!