What do you think of when you hear "indie bookstore"? For us, it's images of some of our favorite independent bookstores over the years—the book tunnel at The Last Bookstore, roaming the expansive Vroman's in Pasadena, or Skylight Books in Los Angeles, packed with people for an impromptu event borne out of concern and solidarity in the wake of the 2016 election.
Independent bookstores are at once community hubs for gathering and storytelling, and also a space in which we're free to be alone, wandering with our own thoughts, picking up whichever books catch our eye. When I was a teenager, my father worked at a bookstore, and I remember it as being one of the first public spaces in which I was allowed to be alone. How I enjoyed disappearing between shelves to find the next world I'd explore!
While it's definitely possible in this internet age to order books from the comfort of home and laptop screen (and we've certainly done our fair share of that too, no judgment!), it's hard to compare that to the experience of exploring a bookstore. I recently stepped into a new-and-used bookstore outside of LA called The Open Book for the first time, and the smell of antique books as I stepped across the bookstore's threshold (and through an archway of books!) immediately made me smile.
Our local bookstores—after all, isn't there a sense of sharing in these communal spaces?—are places where anyone can go to find a book, whether it's a gift for a young niece, or picking up the latest book in a reader's favorite series. Booksellers are passionate readers themselves, and the work they do writing shelf reviews and handselling on bookstore floors, talking excitedly about this great new book they just started, helps bring readers to new stories, and authors to new audiences.
What's your favorite indie bookstore?