Monday, March 8, 2010

INDEPENDENTS, the best thing going !

We all do it I know, but still. Do what exactly,..go to a Borders or Barnes & Noble and all those other chain bookstores out there. I'm not saying their is anything wrong with it, I admit to doing it myself from time to time. However, when given the time and opportunity to go anywhere I like, I head out to the independents. I had a friend recently ask me what's an independent? Well it's simply a bookstore or record shop that is independently owned, and not a part of a larger chain of stores. Over the years I've had several favorites that have unfortunately gone by the wayside. Two of those, Wabash River Books in Terre Haute,In. and Raintree Books in New Harmony,In. were very special to me. I spent many a day lost in their shelves. Wabash River had a great selection & Raintree did as well, and also hosted folk singers and was housed in a building from the 1800's with the old wood floors & cabinets. When they closed, it was like a bit of myself died with them. What makes an independent so special is the kind of services they provide. Most of the ones I go to, have friendly and knowledgeable staffs, good selection, and host author readings and signing events. Another important thing is that the money you spend there stays there. It helps those in that community and it allows those bookstores to be involved in helping with community events. When you shop the chains your money goes back to corporate and doesn't stay in that community. My favorite is Square Books in Oxford,Ms... hands down! Rich Howorth runs a top notch store and it hosts a ton of signing events across many genres. If your lucky you might even run into authors like Ace Atkins, Tom Franklin or Jack Pendarvis while your there. If your in the St. Louis area, be sure to check out Left Bank Books, at 309 N. Euclid, there since 1969. Then head down to street to 239 N. Euclid to Big Sleep Books, a mecca for area mystery fans. One of the owners, Helen Simpson, was actually a character in a Robert Randisi mystery. Some other of my St.Louis favorites are, Subterranean Books, Patten Books, The Book House, and also give Vintage Vinyl Records a look see. In Decatur, Il. there are three pretty good ones in Novel Ideas, Underhill Books, and Cheryl's Old Book Barn. If your heading to Champaign,Il., stop in at Janes Adams Books near The Virginia Theatre and then stop in at the Old Main Bookshoppe. A couple others out there that I really like and that you might enjoy if you get out on the road, are Alabama Booksmith in Birmingham,Al., Turn Row Books in Greenville,Ms.,Anderson's in Naperville,Il.,Landmark Books in Franklin,Tn., Lemuria Books in Jackson,Ms., Mysteries To Die For in Thousand Oaks,Ca., Booked Up in Archer City, Tx, (Larry McMurtry's store), and Murder by The Book in Houston, Tx. There are a whole lot more out there and if your heading somewhere and need a suggestion, just drop me a line. These places are special because they care about you & me. Your important to them. It's just as easy to pick up your phone and call one of these wonderful shops as it is to go online and order off Amazon, or Barnes and Noble. My only criticism of the independent stores is once I get inside I don't want to come out!