The Resurgence of the Independent Bookstore

TUE, JAN 17, 2023 (1:07:25)

Something exciting and unexpected has been happening over the past few years. More than 300 new independent bookstores have sprouted up across the country and the bookstore owners and their inventory have become much more diverse.

The phenomenon is in some part, attributable to the pandemic. People were shuttered in for extended periods and had time to read. Secondly, they recognized their hunger for a place of connection that was safe. The public had rallied rather unexpectedly to support their local bookstores during lockdown and when restrictions relaxed, people returned to their favorite places. These bookstores represented much more than anonymous Amazonian warehouses for purchasing; they had become much-needed centers for community engagement and dialogue, crucibles for ideas and human interaction.

Consequently, all sorts of people with no professional background in books, used their savings or government stimulus checks to follow a dream of opening their own bookstore. Despite the numerous ongoing challenges, nobody seems to have regretted their decision. So, what makes a bookstore special and why become a bookseller? In this Forum we talk to a variety of bookstore owners about their passion for the printed word and their experiences in the literary world.


List of Independent Bookstores in the Boston Area

Other fabulous bookstores to try

And two new bookstores coming up in 2023

Direct link to Frugal Bookstore

Direct Link to All She Wrote Books

Direct link to Harvard Bookstore

Trailer to a new documentary “The Booksellers”

+ BIO: Andrew Kimble

Andrew Kimble is Associate Director of Alumni & Donor Relations and Director of Online Lifelong Learning at Boston University School of Theology.

Andrew brings highly valued experience from his leadership roles at Boston University and the local community and is a strategic thinker and talented public speaker. A bridge-builder, Andrew is invested in sustaining collaborative partnerships between the academy and communities of moral discernment. In his free time, Andrew enjoys listening to live jazz, running outdoors, visiting the used book section in local bookstores, and spending time with friends & family.

+ BIO: Rachel Cass

Rachel Cass is the general manager of Harvard Book Store, where she started as a bookseller in 2006. Harvard Book Store is a locally owned, independently run Cambridge landmark since 1932. It is known for an extraordinary selection and thoughtful curation of new, used, and remaindered books; an award-winning author event series; wildly popular warehouse sales; and a history of innovation.

+ BIO: Christina Pascucci Ciampa

CHRISTINA PASCUCCI CIAMPA is the owner of All She Wrote Books in Somerville. ASWB is an inclusive feminist and queer indie bookstore that supports, celebrates and amplifies underrepresented voices through a carefully curated selection of books spanning across all genres. After operating a series of pop-ups in various stores, Ciampa opened her first brick-and-mortar location at Assembly Row in Somerville in July 2020.

As a survivor of domestic abuse and as a queer person, Ciampa went digging for stories that she could relate to and found that they existed, but they tended to get less shelf space and were often shortchanged by publishers and book reviewers. “Being an avid reader, I often felt unrepresented on bookshelves and recommendations showcasing what was already popular”.

+ BIO: Leonard & Clarissa Egerton

LEONARD AND CLARRISSA CROPPER EGERTON are owners of the Frugal Bookstore in Roxbury, the only black-owned bookstore in Boston. They are business partners and the proud parents of four children, aged 13 to 30 years. Leonard was helped initially by Robert Romanow, who had a passion for starting businesses and selling them to people in the local community. In June 2008, Romanow sold the couple The Frugal Bookstore and Clarrissa quit her corporate banking job and jumped right in as the new co-owner.

The couple have worked diligently to make the bookstore a place that “people in our community could be very proud of, a place where our young people and older folk could come and see themselves reflected in the pages of books. We strive to contribute to literacy in our community, our mission, is to change minds one book at a time.” They have been in business together for 15 years and it is their desire to make the Frugal Bookstore not only a part of their legacy, but a part of Roxbury’s legacy.

Cambridge Forum