Indie Bookstores the Mark of Vibrant Towns
This month, a look at the qualities of independent bookstores - which are making a comeback across the country - and on the coast!
- by Carole McKellar
Independent bookstores are usually owned and operated by people who are passionate about books. They find book selections to suit every taste and make informed suggestions to customers. They enrich their community by hosting book clubs and author events. Local bookstore owners are actively engaged in our community and support the local economy.
Browsing small, intimate bookshops is satisfying on several levels. They are generally warm and inviting visually. Books are colorful and artistic. Reading the synopsis and reviews on the dust jackets promises riches within. Holding books in your hands invites you to participate in something that has enthralled humans for hundreds of years. It is impossible to have the same experience visually and tactilely surfing the web.
When I travel, I seek out bookstores and tend to judge communities by the quality of their independent bookshops. We on the Mississippi Gulf Coast are fortunate to have Bay Books on Main Street, Bay St. Louis, Pass Books on Scenic Drive in Pass Christian, and Southern Bound Book Shop in Biloxi. All of them help make our communities unique and thereby richer.
Mississippi has two bookstores that regularly gain national attention. Lemuria in Jackson is one of the finest bookstores I’ve ever been in. Square Books in Oxford is a ‘must’ for Oxford visitors. Nearby New Orleans has three independents that are regular stops for me. In addition, the French Quarter has three used book shops that are treasures. To find their names and others in each state, go to www.newpages.com or www.indiebound.org.
Successful small businesses make vibrant towns. Shop our independent bookstores to keep dollars and this valuable service in our community. Our local bookstores deserve our support because they enrich all of our lives.
Jeff Kinney, author of the “Diary of a Wimpy Kid” series, is opening a bookstore. “If one kid’s life is changed because of this bookstore, then the whole thing was worth it,” he says.