I’ve noticed something in the air over the past few years, which seems to be becoming more and more prevalent. It’s the scent of revisionism; the aroma of awareness; the whiff of responsibility, and it’s come in part from the largely global nature of commerce these days. Multinationals are omnipresent and we all support them in some way or another. Me, I had a can of Sprite with my lunch today, I read a newspaper owned by Rupert Murdoch, my mobile phone was made on behalf of Google, and I am typing on a Dell computer that runs Microsoft products.
What I’m noticing, though, is that despite the ever-increasing presence of multinationals - and even just national organisations which seem to have agents on every second street corner – in our lives, people are starting to realise the worth of the small corner store. They are conscious about where their money is going: sure, they want to get value for money, but they are prepared to pay an extra dollar or two in order to keep the profits local. A good example of this is the number of farmers’ markets which keep springing up, around Australia at least. Every second suburb seems to have one every few weeks, where locally grown seasonal produce is sold to eager buyers. Sure, it might be more convenient to buy your fruit and vegetables at the big supermarket down the road, but at least with the farmers’ markets you have more idea about how fresh it is, and you’re helping local producers.
Well, the same goes for books. We all buy books, don’t we? (At least, if you’re reading this, I assume you do.) And it’s probably cheaper to go to Target or Big W or Walmart or whatever your local equivalent is, but wouldn’t you rather your hard-earned money went to a local, independent bookseller rather than whatever company it is that owns Target (or Big W or Walmart)? There are a lot of people for whom this is important, and those are the people I’m reaching out to today.
Today, we’re going to plug our favourite independent bookseller. No matter where you are in the world, no matter whether you buy all your books from them or just a selection (and I admit I’m guilty of going to Amazon or Target or whatever when I’m looking for something cheap or convenient), today I want you all to link to an independent bookseller who means something to you. Who knows exactly what books they have and where to find them, and can offer recommendations based on what you’ve already selected. Who love the books they sell as much as you love reading them. Who inspire their customers to try new things and don’t mind if you sit down and start reading something off their shelves. And who get an enormous thrill out of seeing a young child empty their piggy bank onto the counter to buy a new book because that’s what they want to spend their savings on. (Be honest. Is the teenager staffing the checkout at your local discount department store going to react like that?) Go on. Give them a plug. Because the more of us who keep shopping at our independent bookstores, the more likely it is they will stay in business to inspire other people.
I’m going to start. My favourite is Imprints Booksellers in Hindley Street in Adelaide, South Australia. They’ve been there forever and they always have exactly what I’m looking for, with a smile and a helping hand if I need it. And seriously, check out the photo on the link. Wouldn’t you love to shop for books there?
I’m also giving a special mention to Annie’s Books on Peregian at Peregian Beach on the Sunshine Coast in Queensland. I met Annie at Writers’ Week last week and her enthusiasm was contagious, and if she runs her shop with anything like that enthusiasm it’s bound to be worth a visit. (And checking out the photos on her website, I’d say she does.)
Right. Your turn. What is your favourite independent bookstore? Come on, don’t be shy. We’re all helping each other, and who knows? You might help someone else find a new favourite. :)