Let me say up front that I am in favor of all book stores and am not taking aim at chains, but I do have a preference. After a recent author lunch at my favorite, Hattiesburg’s Main Street Books, I decided it was time I spoke up about a fine independent book store. These are just a few of the good things I have experienced with the store and its owners, Diane and Jerry Shepherd.
1. When they Facebook Friend you, they really mean it.
2. Jerry takes your list of hard to find books and searches for them, but checks before ordering to see if you really want to pay $75 for a rare children’s picture book. [No, thank you.]
3. Diane hosts an intimate lunch for her patrons with a Mississippi author [Susan Haltom] of a book about the garden of another Mississippi author [Eudora Welty]. The excellent more-than-a-coffeetable book is One Writer’s Garden with Eudora’s garden story and great photographs and memorabilia pictures.
4. Diane’s mother Norma serves a delicious home-cooked meal at this lunch.
5. They actually know what is on their shelves and can find it for you. They also do “hand-selling,” meaning they make a match between their customers’ reading tastes and books they will enjoy.
6. They support local writers and supplement their stock of books with local art and products from the area.
7. When you request an order for a new book you’ve seen advertised, Diane just might remember that she had received an advanced reading copy and give it to you.
8. Diane holds a signing for you when you are a contributor to an anthology without waiting until you have a whole book to yourself. [Cup of Comfort for Sisters and Cup of Comfort for Families Touched by Alzheimer’s]
9. A local independent book store is said to contribute 3.5 times more to the local economy than a chain.
10. Now add a cozy place with character in a restored downtown building where you can go to browse, chat a few minutes, or sit and look through books until you make a decision, and you have a real community treasure.
If you’re in Hattiesburg, check it out. If not, I can only hope you can find a good independent with character in your neighborhood.