#NextUP Booksellers: Independent Bookstores are a Necessary Community Staple

This post is part of the blog tour curated by the Association of University Presses in celebration of University Press Week. To see the rest of the posts in the tour, click here.

This year’s theme, Next UP, highlights the dedicated work performed by those in the university press community to seek out, engage, advance, and promote the latest scholarship, ideas, best practices, and technology.

Today’s post, “#NextUP Booksellers” is written by Bryan Shaffer, sales and marketing manager of Purdue University Press and his perspective on the important necessity of independent bookstores in one’s community.

Independently owned bookstores are a community staple, much like a favorite coffee or donut shop, greasy spoon restaurant, or that watering hole where everybody knows your name. In my experience indie bookstores aid in the spirit and camaraderie of a community, serving as they do as a destination for locals and visitors to be inspired, comforted, educated, or entertained by an author sharing their work.

I grew up in Columbus, Indiana, which is also home to Viewpoint Books, an independent bookseller for nearly three decades. I will admit, I appreciated Viewpoint Books much more after I began working in the publishing world, and I find that when I visit other bookstores I often compare them to my hometown store. I have fond memories of browsing the books as a youngster while my parents shopped the small Commons Mall, adding to my wish list for Santa. Viewpoint has moved locations now, but when I am back in town a visit never disappoints. Same great selection. Same delightful book smell. Same warm feeling of belonging and wishing I could just stay and read.

Today, living and working in the Greater Lafayette, Indiana, area I am spoiled by having several indie bookstores close by. Von’s Books has been a staple near the Purdue University campus since 1968 and is still going strong, with a great selection of new and used books, among many other things in their one-of-a-kind shop. University students, faculty, and local community members know exactly what is meant when someone says, “I’ll check at Von’s.”

Main Street Books opened in 2015 in a historic downtown Lafayette building. It has that nostalgic feel, with exposed brick and wall-to-wall wooden bookshelves full of something for everyone. Located on a community thoroughfare for downtown festivals, farmers market, and events, Main Street Books is easily wandered into by visitors to our city. Recently it was sold to the owners of a third independent bookstore, Second Flight Books, after the much-admired owner of Main Street Books passed away.

Second Flight Books has been a go-to bookstore in Greater Lafayette since late 2016. Relocated across from a busy community park, Second Flight Books is an awesome maze of rooms and nooks full of books. With a beautiful mural outside and a tremendous selection of new and used titles inside, it is a community gem.

Three different independent bookstores in one Midwest community is certainly a blessing. The owners and staffs work hard and invest a great deal in their businesses and the community, and we all benefit. Thank you, Von’s, Main Street, and Second Flight, for your dedication to Greater Lafayette!

No matter where you are, stop by a local bookstore and take some time to find your next read, or that next great gift for someone special.

Happy reading!