Friday, August 29, 2008

Indie Booksellers by Kat Magendie

I am sitting in a little independent bookstore in Waynesville, North Carolina: Osondu Booksellers, owned by Margaret Osondu. This isn’t a commercial for Margaret, although I gladly tout to the four-thousand winds her bookstore, and Margaret herself, whenever I have the chance. Instead this post is about our independent booksellers, and how I want to see them not only stick around, but to succeed, and succeed in a big way. Sure, the Big Guys have their charms, but it’s as if they are like the Good Looking Man in the room, the one who winks at you, whose suit fits perfectly without a pucker or a wrinkle, whose hair is fashioned in the latest cut, and who knows he owns the room; he’s also the one who doesn’t have time to say much more than a, “Hello! Okay, busy busy busy, have to run now, call me! Or rather, have my people call your people and we’ll have lunch.” We all know lunch isn’t going to come, unless it’s with his representative.

Ah, but the Independent bookseller! I come in Osondu’s and most days Margaret is here. She’s here not only because she owns the business, but because she loves books, she loves reading, she loves this community. She’s the woman in the room who smiles warmly, comes to you and says, “How are you?” and really wants to know how you are. She says, “Hey, such and so book is in; I know how you love to read so and so.” The bookstore is small and warm and inviting, with chairs in the back to sip tea while working or reading or just laughing—just what is happening as I type: I am working, another table of women is having a bite to eat with tea or coffee, and up front, Margaret is helping a customer with his book choices.

Most days, when our mountain weather is fine (and most of the time it is!) the front door is open, letting in a soft breeze, and as people walk by, they can peep in and see me working, see the women talking and laughing, see the books lining the shelves, smell teas, coffees, cookies, brownies. Even when Margaret is not here, she has chosen staff who offer up a smile and warm greeting every time I come in here. This is the face of the indie booksellers. Please, let’s support them. Let’s patronize them and keep them here. Let’s have gratitude for them. They are the strong bones of the community. And this writer will one day be proud to have her books sitting on the shelves of these locally owned bookstores!

8 comments:

Barbara Quinn said...

It's harder and harder to find an indie where I live. And I have to admit I do most of my book browsing at the library or online now. But I have fond memories of little bookstores and I hope there's always a niche for them. Yours sounds perfect.

Angie Ledbetter said...

I think we have one indy seller left in this big town -- Cottonwood Books. A shame. Here's to the Mom & Pop bizzes who fight against the machine. What a valiant struggle!

Joanne said...

Oh this store sounds like a rare breed. So inviting, so welcoming. You're lucky to be close by.

Anonymous said...

Book store in a small mountain town. Pretty good place to be.
Oren (FOA)

Kathryn Magendie said...

Oh, I remember, Angie - Cottonwood and how the indie on Perkins road closed down and I was so sad....a shame...and it seems that from what you all are saying, the indies are fading away -- shame...

Patresa Hartman said...

YAY!

i work at an indie bookstore here in des moines. since i started this job, i can't go into a b&n or a borders without feeling like i'm in walmart. everything seems so dirty and industrial.

at an indie store with a necessarily small inventory, every book that goes onto the shelf has been touched and turned and tapped. each of our small staff has a title that makes us laugh or a cover that is our favorite. any time one of our favorites gets sold, we gloat. it finally found a home. (e.g. last night someone FINALLY bought the Modoc book. hooray! i love that cover.)

i just don't think you can get that at a book "supercenter."

Patresa Hartman said...

p.s. i worked at the bookstore today and someone bought a really nice, pretty vegetarian cookbook that we all like to display. and when the woman brought it to the counter, the bookstore owner and i spontaneously and simultaneously clapped and said "yay!" the customer thought we were out of our minds. the owner explained that we get excited when our favorites get sold. i don't think the woman buying the book understood. *sigh*

anyway. it made me think of this post and my previous comment. and so here i am leaving another comment. and now i am going to stop.

i'm so tired.

Kathryn Magendie said...

*laughing!!!!* I loves ya P

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