Privately owned book stores

I recently spent two weeks in North Carolina and had the opportunity to visit Malaprops, a privately owned bookstore in Asheville. It’s not too big, but still manages to hold a better selection than my local Barnes and Noble. It reminds me that sometimes having more selections are better than having multiple copies. A long table in the back held people in a writer’s group, a fairly pretentious one in my view, but still actual people talking about writing in a book store is exciting. That same spot hosts other writer’s groups and book clubs. It’s intimate and people are welcome to join in. The staff even seems to add opinions as they walk by cleaning up shelves. A small cafe adds some tables and chairs where others are reading as the staff sets up for an author to come and do a reading/signing. Community bulletin boards are up against the few wall spaces that are not covered with books. It is literally a book lovers dream store. As I let my fingers trace over the books, I remembered other privately owned book stores from my past. They all had this same feel. The lighting was perfect, the company was excited about reading, and authors flocked to these areas for their readings. It’s personal. I’m already missing that feel. I saw that Sarah Dessen was going to be there and immediately wanted to head back to North Carolina. It’s too bad that the plane ticket is just too expensive to head off to Asheville again right now. 😦

Do you miss private book stores, or are you a big fan of the easier access (and cheaper prices) of your corporate book providers? Let me know what your thoughts are.

    • Cori
    • July 28th, 2011

    I personally prefer the privately owned book stores. They are usually more willing to help a customer then a big book chain is. There is a level of loyalty. I may also be speaking from a bias, as in Juneau, ALaska we stil have a few private book stores left. Hearthside books (one in the mall, and one downtown), and a small hole in the wall (I forget the name, but know exactly where it is) used book store in our down town area.

    Hearthside is always willing to go the extra mile and find a copy of whatever book you want, as long as it is in their system to order it. They will hold it for you for quite a while, and let you know when it comes in. They recognize their return customers and will send the book to which ever location is easier for the customer. Their downtown store has a old time feel, its a little darker then the mall location, but has that musty book smell when you walk in. I don’t know what it is about that smell, but I know that it isn’t the same when you get a book for a Kindle, or a digital book. They also have quite a selection of hard to find books while still keeping up with the newer books. I have found a lot of books that I wanted based off your blog at that store lately.

    • I am honestly glad that there are still people out there buying books from local bookstores. I just found out that Borders is going out of business. I wonder how much of that is because of eBooks becoming so popular. I enjoy my kindle, but I like seeing my book collection lining my walls. I’m worried that I am going to lose all of that.

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