(Un)Official Declaration of Visit Your Local Independent Bookstore Day

Borders is in the process of no longer existing and it’s banned books week. Get thee to a(n independent) bookstore!

photo via flickr.com/saucestin

This morning, Amazon announced its new Kindle Fire Color Tablet and new versions of the Kindle and Kindle touch that are cheaper and shinier than the old versions! (The Fire Color is being called an iPad killer across the Internet, and people probably use iPads for things other than books and magazine subscriptions, but let’s ignore that for a moment.) There are lots of new things to buy that can let you buy books, so why not cut out the middle-electronic-device and celebrate Visit Your Independent Bookstore Day.*

According to the New York Times:

“‘The problem with bookstores is that the margins are pretty small compared to other retailers,’ said Oren Teicher, the chief executive of the American Booksellers Association, a trade group of independent bookstores. ‘That’s why you don’t see lots of our members in big national malls. The rents just don’t make it work.’

Most successful independents occupy spaces that are less than 10,000 square feet, Mr. Teicher said, and do not pay rents that exceed 10 percent of annual sales.”

And, of course, Borders is gone, and even large bookstores are increasingly stocking non-book items to stay afloat, and sometimes you just don’t want to deal with a love-hate Amazon relationship (sample internal monologue: I want the Kindle! Except I can’t get any of the books/magazines I want in Canada. Yet! Also look how cheap this book is! Except that mailing it might have made someone pass out. Also: the DRM thing. But also: shiny!)

It might not be possible to buy every single thing in your life from an independently owned company, because who has the time. But bookstores are fun, and they are even more fun when you don’t have to wade through 12 miles of glorified “homeware” to get to the good parts.

*I just made this up.

**Also ebooks are lovely! This is not an anti-ebook thing, this is a pro-adorable-tiny-bookstores-with-possibly-scowly-owners-and-large-queer-sections-thing.

Photos via Bookshelfporn.tumblr.com.

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Ryan Yates

Ryan Yates was the NSFW Editor (2013–2018) and Literary Editor for Autostraddle.com, with bylines in Nylon, Refinery29, The Toast, Bitch, The Daily Beast, Jezebel, and elsewhere. They live in Los Angeles and also on twitter and instagram.

Ryan has written 1142 articles for us.


  1. The only iPad owner I know uses it as a shiny facebook machine. Anywaaays, I’ll go to an independent bookstore today, if I can find one. All of the ones I used to go to are already dead.

    • My grandma uses hers for playing Scrabble tournaments with the northernmost branch of the family. It would be funny if it weren’t ridiculous.

      Yeah, I’d LIKE to go visit a good independent bookstore… but the nearest one is like forty minutes away and has an iffy selection and SUPER RUDE staff.

  2. The photo you used here was taken in Barnes and Noble, so its use is somewhat flawed for this particular entry. You also neglected to provide a credit; I would only have expected a small caption/link.


    (Feel free to remove this comment if you edit the post accordingly, thanks.)

  3. I guess it was naive of me to believe that a large corporation like Amazon could also be ethical. :(
    I am definitely hitting up Wonderbooks this weekend.

  4. THIS!! Especially since I work in an independent bookstore And would be all to happy to help cute queer girls find books they cant get through amazon! In fact, that may be why I get out of bed to go to work in the morning…just sayin’

  5. I love bookstores. Although, I do have a space limit to how many books I can fit in my place (seriously, with me AND my english-lit-educated gf, there is literally no room), so the Kindle is good for the books you don’t necessarily want to own but do want to read. (Also, for travelling!)

    But, back to bookstores, I love love love spending time in bookstores, be they the big franchise ones like Waterstones (version of your Barnes and Nobles I think), or the little higgedly-piggledy second hand ones nearby. For obvious reasons, the second hand ones don’t always have the sort of books I’m looking for, but you can get some really good bargains in there if you look for long enough.

    I have to agree though that some of the second hand stores have some very grumpy people working there – but hell, it does make you feel good to support the little guys, so it evens out.

    On the topics of books, perhaps people can link to their goodreads accounts? I’d love to see what other people are reading

  6. My local (ish) book shop has 5 floors of second hand book heaven. Free tea and coffee… and get this… a snogging corner…. it has a sign saying “snogging
    corner, adults only”. We thought it may refer to the content of the books near by… but it really didnt, it was purely for fun. Me and my Girlfriend tried it out last weekend :o)

    plus the owner just asks how many books you have/how much they are.. then takes like 30% off the bill. A-ma-zing :o)

  7. The last paragraph of this is so true. I went to Barnes & Noble with my 2-year-old last weekend and had never before realized that you have to walk past shelves upon shelves of toys in order to get to the children’s book section.

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