Booking Through Thursday - Bookstores and Libraries

This week's Booking Through Thursday conundrum:

What would you do if, all of a sudden, your favorite source of books was unavailable? Whether it’s a local book shop, your town library, or an internet shop … what would you do if, suddenly, they were out of business? Devastatingly, and with no warning? Where would you go for books instead? What would you do? If it was a local business you would try to help out the owners? Would you just calmly start buying from some other store? Visit the library in the next town instead? Would it be devastating? Or just a blip in your reading habit?
Deb's question this week was prompted by the sudden destruction of one of her favorite bookstores when it caught fire over the 4th of July weekend. What a sad thing - just the thought of all those books burning makes me shudder.

I live in Portland, a bookstore- and library-rich city. The loss of any of my favorites would be distressing but, frankly, would barely be a blip in my own reading habit.

I use the library system quite a bit (Central Library, photo above); our county has invested a lot in our libraries, and the taxpayers have shown good support for the system. We have a branch in our neighborhood and can order up any book in the system online and have it sent to the local branch. The inventory is incredible - there's rarely a book I'm looking for that the library doesn't have.

Of course, we have Powell's Books here in Portland - we're just across the river from the main store (Powell's City of Books - the largest used and new bookstore in the world) and one of the smaller neighborhood stores, which is no slouch, is right up the street from us.

In Other Words Women's Books and Resources is the last surviving non-profit feminist bookstore in the United States. I used to shop there quite a lot when they were in my neighborhood, but they're somewhat less accessible to me now.

There are lots of other independent bookstores in town, new and used. I feel very fortunate to have the variety and the good local businesses here. There's no reason for me to shop at Barnes and Nobles or Borders, and I don't. I think it's important to support local bookstores and not let the big bullies put them out of business. That said, I do occasionally order books from Amazon because it's so easy to push that button when I'm lusting after a book at 11pm. I've also been buying lots of good used books lately from Goodwill (known as a charity shop across the pond), which doesn't further the cause of the indies, but does put some disadvantaged people to work.

So the lesson, I suppose, is: diversify! If one book stream runs dry, there are others to fill in the gaps. Ok, I'll quit mixing metaphors now and go read.


BooksPlease said...

I'm spoilt for choice for books as there are plenty of bookshops nearby and a very good library system too. I live between the main library and a small branch library. It would be distressing if any of these became unavailable but like you it wouldn't really be a problem because there are so many.

I try to support the independent bookshops too but admit to buying books on-line as well. Secondhand bookshops seem to have a magnet that just draws me to them and I always find a bookshop wherever I go.

Dewey said...

How said about that bookstore burning down. Like you, I have multiple book sources, but my small local store is such a quirky place, with people I've grown to know and care about working there, I'd still be very upset.

And I sure hope more non-profit feminist shops open before that one ever closes!