julia glass

An Ode To Indies: Why Small Bookstores Need Your Support

November 11, 2011 at 2:29 pm , by

Julia Glass, author of our November book club pick, The Widower’s Tale, has spent a lot of time visiting and reading at the country’s many independent bookstores. It’s safe to say that she’s cultivated quite an admiration for them—and we agree! Here, she explains why you should love them, too (and lets us in on her favorite local bookstores across the US.)


The author (third from left) at Town House Books in St. Charles, IL.

Last Sunday I shared a podium with fellow novelists Leah Hager Cohen and Ha Jin at an 8:00 a.m. “author breakfast” hosted at the Colonial Inn in Concord, Mass., as part of the town’s annual book festival. As I scraped ice off my windshield in the still-dark of that frigid morning, I thought I must have been crazy to accept this invitation. Who in their right minds would leave a cozy bed before sunrise just to listen to a bunch of daydreamers talk about their made-up worlds?

Book lovers, that’s who. Contrary to media doomsayers, they (we) are still legion—as was obvious when I entered the cheerful pandemonium in the inn’s quaintly crooked but spacious dining room. There wasn’t a spare seat to be found.

Standing in that crowded room was doubly affecting to me. First, it happens to be the setting I chose for a climactic scene in The Widower’s Tale. (In my novel, the town I call Ledgely is a twin to Concord, the Ledgely Inn an alias for the Colonial.) Second, the books for sale at the breakfast were supplied by the Concord Bookshop.

The Concord Bookshop was my childhood bookstore from age nine on. I browsed there as often as I could finagle a ride from my mother. An annual ritual was my visit there in early December to choose titles for my Christmas wish list. I picked out art tomes, poetry anthologies, hardbound novels—expensive books I couldn’t afford with the wages I earned as a library page. (I can point to several of those books on my shelves today, their spines faded from the sun permeating various homes over the past forty years.) My mother probably drove back the next day to buy the books I’d held and coveted. There was no Amazon, no Alibris, no eBay, no ready ”discounts” on the price of a book. Imagine my emotions when, at age two or three, on a visit to his grandparents’ house, my first child asked, “Can I go to the Concord Bookshop with Grammy?” He’s 15 now, his little brother 10, and those visits are still a popular request. Heaven knows how much money my mother has spent there over the decades; I’m sure she’d tell you every penny was worth it.

Click “read more ” for Julia’s favorite indie booksellers!

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