My daughter and I just visited an independent children's bookstore in the neighboring town. We were picking out some books for the birthday party that my daughter is attending. I loved talking to the shopkeeper/store owner. We talked about some favorite new authors and children's books, and she asked us questions about things that my daughter mentioned offhand (like Readio, the product which Amanda and I have been helping to pioneer/pilot, because I was looking for a book that's on the program).
Being sort of a fringe member of the kidlit blogging community, I read about what books are hot. I read about trends in books. I even helped select the first non-fiction Cybil award. I saw the books that I've read about and heard mentioned at this store. This bookseller knew all about them. She loved them, too. I wanted to check out some graphic novels**, and in fact that's what we ended up getting. Amanda and her friend each got a copy of Babymouse: Queen of the World. Amanda didn't know anything about them, but she loves the idea--a fun new way to read a book! As I anticipated, she had finished it shortly after picking it up, but she said, "I already finished it, but I want to read it again. I want to read it again right now!"
I've been in that store only once or twice before. I had not talked to the owner before, but now that I have, I'm pulling for her. See, I love amazon. I love the discounts, I love the customer reviews, I love the way that the suggestions about other books that I might like as I'm searching for a book. But I love bookstores, too. I love to browse, I love to stumble upon a book that I might otherwise not ever discover. If I don't patronize these brick and mortar stores, especially the independent bookseller with a love for books equal to or greater than mine, then they might disappear.
My amazon business is safe. I'm not going to stop browsing and reading and making new finds and discarding others after researching them there. However, lately when I enjoy browsing in a bookstore, I am more likely to go ahead and buy it right then from them. It's worth it to me.
That book I bought Amanda? The price was exactly the same at the bookstore and on amazon.
**Are you familiar with the graphic novel? It's sort of like a comic book, but it's novel-length. They are great for more reluctant readers or more visual learners. Some are very, well, mature in content, as are some comic books, but Babymouse: Queen of the World is great for older elementary students, as is the new graphic novelizations of The Baby Sitters Club. There's even a Left Behind graphic novel.