“Local Treat”

Although we live near the huge Barnes and Noble store, and have ready access to Amazon, I was delighted that an independent bookstore opened a few minutes away from our home. River Bend Bookshop, in Glastonbury(Connecticut, not England!) was opened by a woman who retired from the insurance industry to fulfill a life dream of owning a bookstore. Making a small business successful challenges the best entrepreneur, and selling books in the present climate presents an additional hurdle. Why, when I can get a book for a few dollars less from Amazon, should I frequent an independent shop? Why, when I can look at thousands of choices at Barnes and Noble should I go to River Bend instead?

Amazon presumes that my most important value is saving money. Barnes and Noble presumes that my most important value is choice. River Bend Books, on the other hand, presumes that my most important values are being around readers, getting personalized recommendations, meeting writers, and getting to know the booksellers. While I do value saving money and having vast choices, I value most highly personal interaction. Currently I find books I want from reading reviews or looking at Amazon. I then call River Bend and order the books. When I go to pick up the books, not only am I greeted by name, but I also have an opportunity to talk books. Reading is often a solitary pastime, and talking about books satisfies my intellectual side.

American society teems with lonely people, treated impersonally in shops, checking out their own purchases, ordering on-line without talking and seeing only the delivery van, rarely even the driver. We have collectively traded community for economy. We have lost much without really stopping to consider if it was a worthwhile exchange. Going to River Bend Books reminds me that many of us have made a bad bargain. Thankfully and surprisingly enough, independent bookstores are doing very well again. I must be part of a larger group of readers than I knew.

28 thoughts on ““Local Treat”

  1. Excellent post, Elizabeth. I try to support local businesses as much as I can. There is a certain charm to those mom and pop stores that the national chains miss.

  2. You have hit on exactly why a small independent bookshop should do well, against the trend.
    I hope it flourishes, and that you continue to enjoy buying books there.
    Best wishes, Pete.

  3. Sadly, it seems that independentt bookshops now have to be run by people who put being a bookseller above making a living. We had a lovely independent bookshop close by, but unfortunately it had to close last year.

  4. Where I live in NI there are no bookshops now. Two have closed down in my town in recent years but they sold trash books anyway! Apart from the internet, if I want a proper bookshop I have to travel about 20 miles to a Waterstones store which is an excellent bookshop (they bought Foyles in London because they didn’t want Amazon muscling in there! Hoorah!)
    “We have collectively traded community for economy” great line that! It applies to so much of our lives now!

  5. What a powerful post! It certainly speaks to me – about bookshops in particular but also the wider point that you make about loneliness and aloneness. Coincidentally I was in a Waterstones store last week for the first time in a long while and I was stunned and delighted in equal measure. But what I’m eagerly looking forward to is finally getting inside the local bookshop which has been closed the entire time I’ve lived her and has now reopened. The best of both worlds in that it sells secondhand and used books. I plan a leisurely first foray very soon!

    1. When we lived in Oregon we had the pleasure of Powells Books, an enormous used and new bookstore. I love the combination. Our little store is too small to carry used ones at the moment.

  6. Thank you for this post, Elizabeth – it’s like a warm hug and hot cocoa with a few cinnamon imperials for my self who has ALWAYS loved bookstores and libraries!

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