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Online shopping, perhaps one of the smartest ideas to come out of what can sometimes be a technological minefield – the internet. All the books that your heart desires can be easily found, for discounted prices and you don’t have to move an inch. For reading enthusiasts this may seem like the most logical option for their purchasing habits, but there are some things that Amazon cannot provide, things that an independent bookshop can. In celebration of Independent Bookshop Week, we share the reasons why the next time your bibliophile temptation strikes you should head to your local independent bookshop instead of your browsing cursor. 

Personalisation

Reading is quite a solo and intimate experience, one where you can block out the world around you as you delve into the world that appears before you on pages. Whilst there is beauty in bonding with a book, bonding with people is also great and that is what you get when you come to an independent bookshop. Independent bookshops have staff who are knowledgeable on books, they can recommend books to fit your tastes and broaden your horizons to new genres, authors and themes. Hearing people share their thoughts on books and seeing how passionate they are about reading is not something that an algorithm can give you. An algorithm may be able to pique your interest, but it cannot inspire you the way interacting with friendly staff at independent bookshops can.

Support your local community

Of course, with Amazon and other online retailers you get your books delivered straight to your door, it is quick and convenient, well suited for our busy lives. However, the efficiency at which you receive your books from Amazon comes at a cost. Buying from Amazon is crippling smaller independent businesses. When you buy from Amazon you are supporting a tax evasive billionaire, who contributes to environmental damage and who’s workers earn little to nothing. Buying books from your local independent bookshop directly supports the owner, the staff, and your wider community. Independent bookshops usually stock old versions of classics and books about the history of their city, not only would you be supporting your community economically, but you would be keeping the sense of culture alive. Charities, local artists and the creative industry are also supported by independent bookshops, so by buying books from independent bookshops you are helping a good cause.

Events

Independent bookshops often host events such as author meet and greets, where you can listen to an author read an excerpt of their book, ask the authors questions, get your book signed and much more. By going to independent bookshop events, you have the chance to connect with the writers you love and to gain in-depth insight into why they wrote the books you love and meet fellow readers. For new writers these events help promote their book, it allows them to get their books out there, so not only are you as a reader having fun, but you are also making a new author’s dream come true.

The Experience

There is just something magical about going to an independent bookshop instead of staring at a screen and scrolling down a website. Bookshops are decorated by people who have taken the time to think about aesthetics, what’s grouped together, what’s displayed and curated collections. You can sit down in a cosy corner and read, you can trail your hand across rustic shelves, some bookshops can even provide you with coffee and sweet delicacies. Unlike online stores, independent bookshops are created with the reader in mind. If you are into your crime thrillers there is something for you and if you like being whisked away to vibrant and unique cities there is something for you as well. Nothing beats an independent bookshop.

Now that lockdown restrictions have lifted and a sense of normality has returned upon the reopening of many industries, this is the perfect time to support independent bookshops. If you do still prefer to shop online here are some ways that you can shop whilst still supporting your local bookshop.

  • Order directly from their website.
  • Order for click and collect.
  • Pre-order books.

By Khadisha Thomas

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