Look inviting? This morning’s New York Times featured a story about Nashville, Tennessee — the city, by the way, where you can find that great gilded lady from my last post (visit their Parthenon if you’d like to see her). The Times article, which you can access here —

Novelist Fights the Tide by Opening a Bookstore

— describes how Nashville recently lost its last independent bookstore, a sad but all-too-frequent occurrence. Barnes & Noble recently opened a new store on the edge of the Vanderbilt University campus (in fact, I bought two books there last week!) but a town, a college town especially, really should have an independent bookstore.

Luckily, Ann Patchett is answering the call. I’m sure you know her books, like Truth and Beauty or, more recently, State of Wonder. With Karen Hayes, she’s opening a new bookstore, Parnassus Books (click to visit), featuring books (of course), e-books, and coffee: what’s not to like?

Patchett is not the only well-known author to sponsor a local bookstore. Larry McMurtry is famous not only for his Westerns but also for his used bookstore, Booked Up, in Archer City, Texas. There’s a good article about it here.

The town I live in, although it’s a college town, has no good independent bookstore. So when I travel, I make a point of stopping at independent bookstores. And when I stop, I make a point of buying a book. Not a non-book-item like a bookmark or pen or postcard. If a bookstore is going to stay in business as a bookstore, it needs to sell books; so I buy a book or two. Books make perfect souvenirs; don’t you often recall where you bought or first read a favorite book? And even a stuffed suitcase can usually hold another book!

The Patchett article made me think about my everyday book-buying habits, though. I remembered that, when journalists were interviewing some of the “regulars” at a Borders bookstore that closed in Boston, most of them weren’t regular buyers. They were regular browsers, who would buy their books on Amazon. I don’t do that, but I do buy a lot of my books on Amazon, simply because it’s easy and because the books I want usually aren’t available locally. But with the holidays arriving — in my family this involves five family birthdays as well as Christmas — I’m inviting you to join me in another way of buying books:

Buy books at your local bookstore, if you want them to stay in business!
To find your closest “indie” bookseller, use the IndieBound search function, here.
Buying local keeps more money circulating locally, and it supports the kinds of businesses that make a town welcoming and vibrant.

If you don’t have a local bookstore, then consider buying through someone else’s local bookstore, such as Main Street Books (click to visit), a great indie bookstore in Orleans, Massachusetts, on Cape Cod.

(The photo at the beginning of this post is also from Main Street Books). I visit them every summer, and everyone in the family walks out with a book, although it takes us a hour or so of happy deliberation and consultation. Every book in the place calls out “read me!” and the proprietors bring in an inspiring rota of authors for readings/signings. Even better, they offer an online ordering system that gives you a 10% discount on your order and makes a 10% donation to a charitable organization with every purchase.

Main Street Books anchors some of my family’s favorite summer memories.
What memories does your local bookstore have in store for you?

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