The holiday crush has ended and I’m left with one resounding thought: this has been a good year for independent bookstores. I feel like we’re having a resurgence as the pendulum is swinging back towards all things local, and this means bookstores with real people who are passionate about books and can help customers find the best possible book.
I heard over and over again this season, “You really know your books.” This wasn’t just said to me but to all the staffers at the Flying Pig. I’m certain this refrain was heard across the land at just about every indie bookstore. You don’t go into the bookstore business to make money. You go into it because you love books. People flock to bookstores during Christmas and Hanukkah for a reason: books make great gifts. I might not remember what toy I got when I was 10, but I do remember getting and loving Julie of the Wolves and The Great Brain. Books create memories.
A woman was in the store on Christmas Eve looking at horse books for her granddaughter when she saw a Billy and Blaze book she had never seen before. She asked me if that was a new title and I said no. The book was propped on the shelf. She touched her heart and took a breath. “I loved these books when I was little. I still think about this one image of Billy and Blaze riding in a field. Just the other day I thought about that image.” I handed her the book. “Get it for your stocking.”
An hour later I was ringing her up. She has a large family and her stack of books was massive. Tucked in amid The Unwinding, The Goldfinch, and other yummy hardcovers was a slender paperback of Blaze Finds the Trail.
This is why independent bookstore aren’t going anywhere. So, dear readers, enjoy your newfound treasure and may your hardest decision this coming week be: what should I read next?