July 11, 2021: The Power of a Bookstore
Bookstores are the soul of a community. Whether they are a big name chain, or a small independent shop, they are the place where people shop and wander, gather for coffee or book discussions, run into friends, and discover their next favorite author. They are places of comfort, discovery, curiosity, and growth.
This week I found out that my local bookstore will be closing in September. This was devastating news for me. This particular store has been a central part of our community for over 20 years. I have so many memories related to this store.
As a patron, barely a week has gone by when I have not stopped in for something. It is my first stop when gift shopping, and my last when indulging in a me-day. It is my go-to place when I am adding to my class library, or to my personal book collection. As a grandmother, it is always a destination when I have my granddaughters with me. Whether for an informal walk around to find a book, or to join a story time event, it is always a favorite stop.
As an author, this particular bookstore was the place where I held my very first Author Book Signing event 13 years ago, when my very first book was published. While I have participated in many others over the years, both at this store and at many other book shops, that first one will always hold a special place in my heart. This book store has provided limitless opportunities for me to connect with readers, book lovers, and other authors. It has also been the place of many scheduled meetings with students. I have met elementary students there to talk about books and writing, and I have met my college students there to dig into children’s literature. My husband and I have even gone there for quiet couple-time, to just get a cup of coffee and wonder the shelves.
Bookstores, like many brick-and-mortar establishments, have suffered greatly during this pandemic. As people have sheltered at home and shifted to on-line shopping, actual storefronts have suffered. Even as vaccines are being rolled out and we are returning to normal activities, many people have been reluctant to give up the convenience of on-line shopping. Added to this is the growth in digital books, and it is clear that physical book shops have most likely suffered more than any other type of retail establishment.
And this is tragic. Truly tragic.
If we allow these pillars of ideas, intellect, creativity, and discovery to disappear, what will fill the gap left behind?
I am not sure anything can be done to save this bookstore, but if you have a local book shop, plan to stop in soon and let them know how important they are to the soul of your community.