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Valley Journals

Utah’s local bookstores unite for Indie Bookstore Day

May 16, 2018 11:16AM ● By Jana Klopsch

April 28 is Independent Book Store Day (Wikimedia)

By Joshua Wood | joshw@mycityjournals.com

Buying local does a community good. That’s why several area businesses took part in Indie Bookstore Day on April 28 to help connect Utah readers with their neighborhood bookstore.

With the growth of online shopping and recent decline in sales at brick and mortar stores, bookstores, like businesses around the country, have worked to combat the retreat of face-to-face business. According to the American Booksellers Association, independent bookstores express confidence that they are better equipped than chains to weather the changing retail landscape. Visiting Utah’s diverse independent bookstores shows good reason for that confidence. 

“I am always preaching the gospel of local businesses,” said Tony Weller of Weller Book Works in Downtown Salt Lake. “It’s not about the preservation of our own old family bookstore. It’s about the community I want to live in. There are a lot of businesses in this community that I used to support that no longer exist. I am saddened to see good businesses disappear.” 

For supporters and members of the local bookstore scene, Indie Bookstore Day is about more than reading and local bookstores. It is about community and the important role that local businesses play in how they are shaped.

“The Local First movements across the country, and especially in Utah, are educating people about what shopping locally does for them, how it keeps their economy healthy, how it keeps their neighbors in their houses, pays for their sidewalks,” said Anne Holman of The King’s English Bookshop in Sugar House. “It’s a good thing to do. It’s the right thing to do.” 

With many local businesses struggling to compete with chain stores and online retail outlets, independent bookstores have led a budding renaissance. In fact, the American Booksellers Association stated that there has been a 35 percent increase in the number of independent bookstore locations since 2009.

“People have come to realize that where we shop defines our community,” said Aaron Cance of The Printed Garden in Sandy. “Where we buy our stuff defines what our neighborhood looks like. Independently owned businesses of all types have enjoyed a little resurgence in support.” 

As part of Indie Bookstore Day, patrons could participate in a bookstore crawl, get a passport card stamped at each location, and get a chance to win free books. The event has taken place for four years and is gaining traction in Utah with the bookstore crawl now in its second year. 

“It says a lot about the valley that there is a lot of value placed on reading,” said Cance.

The event served as a reminder to buy local, to let more people in the community know that there are more independent bookstores in the area than they might realize, and of course, to encourage people to enjoy books. The diversity of bookstores in Utah is similar to the diverse subjects they offer their customers.

“You should balance the information that you’re bringing into your head,” said Weller. “I try to convince readers to leave that department where that they feel so comfortable and walk across my bookstore to a different section and pick a book.”

The same could be said for the businesses people support and how they help shape the character of their communities.

“You have work, you have home, and you have the other place you like to spend time,” said Cance. “It’s a place where you can be yourself, where you can discuss things without fear. It’s important for a lot of reasons.”

Indie Bookstore Day served as a reminder of the importance of local bookstores, and local businesses in general. Those who discover them, tend to keep coming back.

“A lot of our customers have been shopping here for 40 years, and now we’re on third generation, fourth generation,” said Holman.

Other local bookstores in the Greater Salt Lake area include the Golden Braid (Salt Lake City), Ken Sanders Rare Books (Salt Lake City), Booked on 25th (Ogden), Marissa’s Books and Gifts (Murray), The Children’s Hour (Salt Lake City), and more. The American Booksellers Association’s website has a search function to help people find bookstores in their communities. Visit www.bookweb.org