The independent bookstore

It was some with a certain grim sense of tragedy that I noted last year that The Travel Bookshop in London – of Nottinghill fame – had closed down, weighed down by debt and unable to raise sufficient funds to be saved, Not only that, but it seemed that independent bookstores everywhere were destined, sooner or later, to go the same way.

If only the proprieter of this condemned bookshop and looked to America. Washington DC, in particular.

Here, independent bookstores are thriving. In fact, (I would like to say that I am writing this blog entry from one, but this would be a slight fabrication. I had wanted to write the entry from one, but the policy of the particular shop in question – Books-a-Million – was to only let members access the free wifi, which had been advertised in large letters outside. So I am writing from Starbucks instead. Which kinds of undermines the ‘Go Indies!’ message I am trying to put across. Drat.)

Here, independent bookstores aren’t just shops. They are social clubs, with cafe or bar attached, where folk will come and just hang out. And occasionally they’ll buy a book, too.

It’s a model that has really taken off, at least in Washington DC, and I’m certain could be applied elsewhere. Many US fads eventually make it over to London, so it’s only a matter of time before this model takes hold there, too.

Owners of independent bookstore owners take note – before it is too late.


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