Shop local shop small shop independent.
Tis the season….and children’s picture books are always top of my list of gifts for the kids. I’m not at all likely to give scooters or battery driven cars or tablets or video games. But I can be counted on to give books! On every occasion!
But which books should you buy?
Certainly, there are thousands of picture books and chapter books for kids available both in brick-and-mortar bookstores and in online book stores, but how do you know which book is right for you and your youngster? I’m here to help you out!
I have reviewed several books that are our favorites on my Goodreads page, and I continue to do so. You can follow me on Goodreads and learn much more: what I’m reading, what I’m writing, and what I’m reviewing for readers and lovers of books. Along with literally millions of other Goodreads subscribers! A small disclaimer is in order here: Goodreads is owned and operated by Amazon. https://www.goodreads.com/review/list/106610638?ref=nav_mybooks#
But where do you purchase your books?
Many of us still want the pleasures of in person shopping so we go to Barnes & Noble or to Books a Million. And yes, Barnes & Noble bookstores are beautiful, lined with shelves packed with books and books and more books. These books are bright and colorful and available to pick up, peruse, and hold in our hands. But if you look closely at those shelves of books, you’ll notice something glaringly missing…there are no books that are self-published. There are no shelves dedicated to local authors. There are even, among the children’s picture books, very few books that don’t have very expensive—and yes, beautiful—book jackets. While the traditional brick and mortar big box bookstores provide the bookstore experience, with the occasional soft chair and a Starbucks coffee shop, it’s large and highly air conditioned and a bit clique-y! No local authors? No self-published books in this technological age? No children’s book without jackets? Why not?
I choose the locally owned, independent bookstore.
In my hometown, the locally owned independent bookstores offer only used books. They are stores where you go to trade your old books in and purchase new-to-you used books. But there are several locally owned independent bookstores that offer new books and feature local authors that I have come to frequent and follow. I want to share some of them with you.
- Book and Cover in Chattanooga TN. Book and Cover was the first bookstore to put my books on their shelves. I have family in Chattanooga, so I visit often, and because I’m a patron of the bookstore they jumped at the opportunity to offer my books to their customers. It is so gratifying to take my granddaughter book shopping and see our books up on the shelves and know that we have partnered with a small, locally owned, community-conscious business. They have a small coffee shop that features pastries from a local bakery, and they provide tables and chairs and nooks and crannies for working, reading, and studying. It is a delightful place to be. https://www.thebookandcover.com/
- Books and Books in Miami, FL. I have a daughter and a granddaughter who live in Coral Gables Fl, and Coral Gables boasts one of the most awesome bookstores I’ve ever visited. Beautiful books, toys and games for the kiddos, and a reading table. The store has three separate wings or sections, and you could browse their shelves and tables for hours if you could take the time. And maybe you can! Browse a bit, have a delicious lunch, browse some more, and then sit at the wine bar for a late afternoon beverage. Books and Books in Coral Gables offers almost daily events, both online and in person, featuring some heavy hitters—politicians, historians, authors, and illustrators. I just wish I could be there more often! https://www.booksandbooks.com/stores-and-cafes/coral-gables/
- Lighttrap Books in Jackson TN is a tiny bookstore tucked into the back of a coffee shop and record store, and with only a few shelves to line with books, I still found some of my favorite classics and the newest books available. I had a great cup of coffee, browsed the vinyl, and shared some time and conversation with the owner, who just opened this shop a couple of years ago. It’s downtown Jackson on Main Street and a much-needed community space and gathering place. You could plan a long visit here! https://www.lighttrapbooks.com/
But what if you like to shop online?
Aren’t the big guys the only way to do that?
NO! Two websites you must know about! www.indiebound.org and www.bookshop.org. Both are online presences that benefit small, locally owned bookstores. You can purchase any book you like on these websites, designate which independent bookstore you wish to benefit with your purchase, (all the bookstores mentioned above are there, along with many others from all over the country!) or allow your purchase to go to benefit all the bookstores they represent. The price is the same as you will find on the big guys’ website; taxes are exactly the same; they will ship directly to you. But your purchase price goes not into the hands of wealthy stockholders, but into the coffers of small, locally owned, independent businesses. If that’s important to you, as it is to me, try these websites and let me know if you have any questions.
One big online shopping hack for you: I have only found one online presence that allows you to “Look Inside” a book you’re considering, and that is Amazon. Since I am a firm believer in “Look Inside” before I purchase a book, I go to Amazon and “Look Inside” the book there. THEN I purchase the book on either bookshop.org or indiebound.org. Shhhh…. don’t let Jeff know!