It’s so easy nowadays to simply click “purchase” on an Amazon basket and have a book delivered straight to your door the next day. Minimum effort, zero fuss, rarely any problems. Book prices on Amazon are often lower than in stores, so why would you go anywhere else?
There are plenty of reasons to shop at independent bookshops rather than corporations such as Amazon. Ultimately, our high street shops keep us going. Could you imagine walking to your local village, town, or city, and every single shop being bordered up?
I think it would be horrible, too. So here’s five reasons why you should shop independent.
Booksellers in most bookshops, including larger corporations, are normally exceptionally excited about books. I’ve found that bookshops are my favourite place to be, even more than libraries, because there is something wonderful about having a conversation with a stranger about some you both love!
I have often been recommended & bought books on the recommendation of booksellers, and I don’t think I have ever been let down. Once, I even asked an employee to recommend me a book – I think my exact words were, “A book you wish everyone would read.” He was lovely, and suggested Siddhartha by Hermann Hesse, which is one of my favourite books now!
Indie Bookshop Special Editions
Did you know these existed? I kind of did, and yet it was only when my bookseller friend told me about it that I heard more about them!
These are limited editions (usually numbered on the inside), signed editions that only go to independent bookshops. Waterstones also has limited editions, but they are often not signed like these ones are. An example is this beautiful copy of Circus of Wonders (this is my friend’s that I borrowed for bookstagram!) which are now sold out almost everywhere.
All bookshops are unique, but there is something special about discovering a gem of a bookshop, hidden away in an alley. It feels so magical. I have had the fortune to find many of these beautiful bookshops, and they are often just as stunning on the inside. I love bookshops that are made out of old things or have great displays inside! Some bookshops even do things like subscriptions or work with the local community.
Chain bookshops often have their own USP, but no two independent bookshops are the same, I guarantee it.
Are you interested in something in particular? Many independent bookshops specialise in something in particular, such as crime, young adult, children’s, or adult. Whilst most have a wide variety of books, you may find more of one genre when you visit. One of my favourite local indies specialise in children’s books.
Returning to point #1, many of the booksellers are specialised in a particular area of literature, so it’s always worth asking if you’re after something specific!
The specialisms are something I find very special about independent bookshops. I love visiting all bookshops, but sometimes I want advice on a particular thing!
Once again, Waterstones runs fantastic events throughout the year, but independent bookshops have fantastic visitors and wonderful entertainment! Harry Potter Book Night is coming up, and I know of a few indies near me that are doing events, even roping in the rest of the high street to participate (as 2021’s theme is Diagon Alley!). Have a look at your nearest bookshop to see what they can offer.
Well, that’s great, but…
But, you may be thinking, “Well, I can’t get to those shops.” Well, you can also shop online at most places! Many local independent bookshops turned to selling online when the pandemic hit. And if you’re not sure which independent bookshop to go with, you can always turn to Bookshop.org, which gets its stock from independent retailers. You can either choose a specific shop, or go generic, where profits are pooled together before being dispersed every six months. I can’t always get out, either through chronic illnesses or simply time, so this is a great alternative! I’ve even messaged indie bookshops through Instagram and bought books that way!
Those are just some of the things I love about independent bookshops. What are yours?