For our first blog post, we thought we’d comment on independent and used bookstores. As the founders of Bedlam, for us there is no other bookstore than an independent bookstore. We see them as quirky, interesting, unique, community-creating, and essential. Yes, we’ve been to a Barnes & Nobles. Yes, we’ve bought books on amazon.com. We’ve resorted to these places when there was a must-have item that we couldn’t find elsewhere. We think of them as giant warehouses more than bookstores/sellers. But mostly, when at all possible, we buy from independent bookstores – even if it’s an out-of-town indie shop and takes a day or two longer to get the book we want shipped to us!
We’re excited to see the trend in new independent bookstores opening. After years of booksellers closing up shop, the public seem to have come full circle and realized that the essence of a community just isn’t the same without a local bookshop. They recognize the value in supporting those local shops. Sure, warehouses are nice conveniences. But you can’t browse a warehouse the way you can your local independent shop. You can’t step into a uniquely-created, non-corporate space the way you can with an indie shop. And people crave that kind of discovery in an ever-increasing internet-based, corporation-dominated environment.
And that brings us to used bookstores. We love all kinds of independent bookstores, but used books are where our heart is. We love the lineage of books, books as objects, books as well-worn things, books that absorb the essence of those who’ve read them, books that are a little beat up until we tend to them with care, books that have been long-forgotten, books that have been coveted, books that look good on your bookshelf, books that have changed who you are forever after you read them…. We could go on. There is something special about used books. They embody a certain humanity that connects us to each other. The idea or story that made you who you are, is connected to another person who possessed that book before you. That’s sacred, and revolutionary. Yes, we get that spiritual about used books. We’ve spent some pretty formative time in used bookstores throughout our lives, and literally can’t imagine who we’d be without those experiences. We want to do that for others. And that is a pretty sacred and spiritual thing.