On this July 4th I am tipping my Uncle Sam hat to my favorite bookstore, Babbitt’s Books. I can’t think of a better day to celebrate indie bookstores than the one which celebrates American ingenuity, perseverance, and history. If you don’t currently have an indie bookstore that makes you feel all firework-y inside, start/keep looking–there’s bound to be one out there for you (see what I did there ;-)?)
Here are some of the reasons I love Babbitt’s:
1. “Sometimes you wanna go where everybody knows your name” My family goes to Babbitt’s nearly every Saturday morning. When we enter the door we know we are among friends. Almost always, we buy books, but always we have great conversations with Brian, the owner, or Ben, who works Saturdays and has an unending amount of patience when listening to my son’s tales of Minecraft and Legend of Drizzt and such. Just recently, Brian gave us some NYC travel advice, as he remembered my daughter’s upcoming college visit trip. And every visit my husband Dan and the Babbittt’s guys talk about everything from news to movies to politics to Dr. Who to history and oh, yeah, to books.
3. They save books for us. Some Saturdays there will be a stack or two of MG/YA books saved for me in case I want to buy them for my school library. Although Babbitt’s primarily sells used books, the majority of these are nearly new and deeply, deeply discounted so I can get the most bang for my school’s buck. Also, when my son was into Artemis Fowl, they remembered and set books aside for him for first dibs. And Dan has a standing request for Osprey military books and Ballantine’s Illustrated History of the Violent Century series (aside: what an awesome name for a series–that would never fly today). Babbitt’s outstanding, personalized customer service is what makes people come back again and again.
4. Babbitt’s gives discounts to educators and to regular customers. There’s no paperwork, no annual membership fee, and no hassle–just a thanks-so-much-for-coming-in-so-much, we appreciate your business.
5. I get to help out sometimes. If I am in the store and another customer needs recommendations for children or young adult books, Ben will sometimes ask me if I have any suggestions. Once, I was able to help someone find “that book with a cow on the cover” and was so giddy that I was right about Going Bovine that I forgot I wanted to buy the $4 hardcover for myself. It’s all a part of being the reading community you join when you go to Babbitt’s.
So you might be thinking to yourself, “Wow, that was a giant extended commercial/love letter for a place Michelle really, really digs.” But the thing is, as awesome as Babbitt’s is, there are tons of independent bookstores out there in a myriad of different places that can give YOU a similar experience. So the next time you are itching to buy a new (to you) book, tear yourself away from Amazon, drive past Barnes & Noble, and try out an indie bookstore near you. It may just become your regular Saturday morning hangout.