Saturday, January 8, 2011

Putting my Money Where my Mouth is (and Where the Books are)

As an elementary school teacher, my mother is the recipient of countless giftcards during the holidays. This past weekend, my whole family piled into the car and drove out to Barnes & Noble to help her spend a few of them. The four of us wandered around for an hour, trying to dodge the crowd and the disturbingly large "Teenage Paranormal Romance" section. While we were digging through the bargain-priced classics, my father said something that put a halt to my savings-spree. "We really should have gone to a local book store."

I suddenly realized that as an advocate for bettering Buffalo, I had no business shopping in a national super chain. Immediately, I tucked my page-long book list back into my pocket, unpacked most of the pile from my shopping basket, and headed for the door. The very next day, I took my list to Talking Leaves on Elmwood.

I've always loved Talking Leaves. It's a tiny place, sure, but it's not hard to spend hours flipping through pages there anyway; they fit a huge amount of books into the place. The selection is great (they had way more gardening books than B&N,) the staff is super helpful, and it really is a Buffalo institution. If you're looking for a book they don't carry, they'll gladly order it for you. I bought two books from my list while I was there, and ordered another two. When I went back yesterday to pick those up, I ordered yet another. I also purchased a membership for $10 which entitles me to 10% off all my purchases for a year. Hell, I bought enough books this week alone to be worth the membership.

I have a lot of reading to do.

Will I still order the occasional book from amazon? Of course I will. But most of the time, I'd rather spend a few extra shekels and know that I'm helping to keep an amazing local store in business. I'm really looking forward to when they open the patio in the spring. I can't imagine a better way to spend an afternoon than sitting out there with a good book, drinking a cup of something delicious from nextdoor, and people-watching on Elmwood.

The Talking Leaves Main St. location is bigger than Elmwood, enabling them to host the occasional event or book signing. They have the same great selection and friendly staff. Talking Leaves isn't the only local book store; there are great shops all over Buffalo. The Second Reader Book Shop on Hertel has a great selection of used and out-of-print books. There's also Old Editions Book Shop & Cafe downtown, and Rust Belt Books in Allentown, among many others.

With the rising popularity of digital readers like the Kindle, and nook, small book stores need more support than ever. I'm happy knowing that Buffalonians appreciate what these shops add to the community and continue to patronize them.


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