I've been reading on a few other blogs lately (and yeah, I do follow quite a few based on reading and books), that the independent bookstores are being swallowed up and spat out by the bigger, more industrialised bookstores. I'm finding this terrible and a horrible waste of personal service. On the one hand, you have the wonderful little (and sometimes not-so-little) book stores that have been around since the beginning of time. They have regular customers, lovely people behind the counter who know the shop backwards in their sleep, books you wouldn't and couldn't find anywhere else around town and allow you to just meander around for as long as you want without asking if you need any assistance every ten minutes.
Then, you have the huge, business building-sized bookstore you can get lost in at a moment's notice due to it's size; and not because you've lost track of time. They have lounge chairs everywhere, a coffee shop, people asking if you're okay and a computer system most people can't figure out on their own (thus the reason for these places to be overstaffed at times). It's not that I don't like the big, massive, book stores where you have to have map to find the section you want. But it's what these oversized stores do to the little business that really bothers me.
Just like in the the movie, 'You've Got Mail', the small, community-based bookstore that had been around for more than 30+ years was shut down by the arrival of a huge, all you'd ever want to buy but better bookstore. The irony of this film - and I've found this with many bookstores that are on the larger scale - is that they lack the personal touch the smaller, independent bookstores have. In 'You've Got Mail', the owner of the smaller bookstore went into the bigger bookstore and found the staff knew nothing about the authors and the older editions of the books; but they knew all about the new publications. For some people, that's okay. But for collectors of books (like myself), that's not enough.
The independent bookstores are not becoming a thing of the past here in Australia. Seeing how we are finding it harder to make ends meet and it's not always best to purchase books brand new, us Australians often head off to the second-hand bookstores to find ourselves a bargain. Or better still, we wait until the bi-annual Life Line Bookfest in January and June where we can find books at the best prices ever! Last year, I bought up big there and even had enough money to buy some books for my niece who really loves horses.
There are some great second-hand bookstores around the Brisbane area where their shelves are lined with books. 'Archive's Books' on Charlotte Street in the City is one. It's been around for years and people have gone there for years; I do recommend a visit there if you do come to this lovely city. Another I frequent is 'Cumquat Books' at Annerley; on the corner of Juliette Street and Emporer Street. It looks boring on the outside with its grey exterior; however once through that glass door, you'll never want to leave! And the best thing is: it's wheelchair friendly! Then, there's 'Charring Cross Books' at Chardon's Corner. It used to be in a house on Ipswich Road. But now, it's moved a few doors down next to the travel agent (ironically enough, not far from where it originally started off when I was in high school). But it's still there and just as popular as ever.
So, has the independent bookstore you frequent been squeezed out of existence? Or is it still going strong? And how do you shop for books? Online or at a discount bookstore? I do most of my shopping at second hand bookstores and charity shops as well as a place called QBD where their motto is: "Never pay full price!" That's a motto I do live by!