Independent Bookstores: Why They Remain Relevant
Brick-and-mortar bookstores have been on shaky ground over the past few years. With the introduction of tablets, e-readers and even online giants like Amazon, book retailers have been struggling to stay afloat in the market, especially indie booksellers.
Not only have indie bookstores been forced to compete with electronic media, the apparition of malls and chain book retailers have forced most of them to shut down. Why should we aid them in their fight for survival? The answer is simple: to maintain the integrity of the book-reading community and of literary art.
Independent bookstores are much more interested in the actual content of the books and wish to provide their costumers with what they consider the best books out there, both classic and contemporary.
It is clear that chain bookstores have designed their stores with the sole purpose making a profit. For us readers, this unattractive quality ensures that we cannot trust what is displayed in these mega stores; publishing companies pay lots of money in order to secure shelf space and prominent placement within these chain retailers. This issue further taints and diminishes the quality of literature offered to the masses (the reason behind Snooki becoming a best-selling author). While independent booksellers may have smaller quantities of books to sell, they are guaranteed to be hand picked.
Here is a list of truly worthwhile (not to mention remaining) independent bookstores in New York City:
Three Lives and Co.
If you find yourself walking through Manhattan’s West Village, Three Lives and Co. is definitely a must. Make a pit stop in this quaint bookshop which sits on the corner of 10th street and Waverly Place, where the friendly staff will be more than happy to help you in your book-purchasing endeavors.
What Three Lives and Co. Recommends for college students:
- The Sense of an Ending by Julian Barnes
- The Voyage of the Rose City: An Adventure at Sea
- The Marriage Plot by Jeffrey Eugenides
Shakespeare and Co.
Situated in the heart of NYU-town, 716 Broadway, Shakespeare and Co. boasts an incredible collection of books in almost every genre imaginable.
What the Shakespeare and Co. Staff recommends:
- The Magicians by Lev Grossman
- I Want My MTV by Craig Marks
- Fun Home: A Family Tragicomic by Allison Bechdel (graphic novel, very enthusiastic recommendation for this one.)
One of the perks of this Brooklyn Indie bookstore is that they regularly have authors make readings and appearances in their shop. This is one of my favorite places to visit in Brooklyn. It’s worth checking out!
Among Book Court’s Staff Picks:
- Down and Out in Paris and London by George Orwell
- Carrie by Stephen King
- CivilWarLand in Bad Decline by George Saunders
This awesome shop is located on 52 Prince St. between Lafayette and Mulberry St. McNally Jackson. The staff are knowledgeable and approachable, and rest assured, whatever recommendations they give you are sure to be worthwhile.
McNally Jackson’s staff’s recent favs:
- Stone Arabia – Dana Spiotta
- Operation Mincemeat – Ben McIntyre
- The Best of Everything by Rona Jaff (recommended for young New Yorkers or aspiring New Yorkers alike)