Save Wordsmiths! And your other (local) bookstores…

I was driving home from the office the other day and heard a compelling story on NPR about Wordsmiths Books, an independent bookstore in Decatur, Georgia, that is currently asking for financial contributions to help offset their start-up debts. Start-up debts, you ask? What do you mean Catherine?

Well, according to owner Zach (no last name needed, since we’re talking about a neighborhood bookstore), Wordsmiths started out originally in a really bad location which drained its financial resources. They relocated to their current location in Decatur, Georgia, and have been voted the best bookstore in Atlanta and host a variety of great authors and events. On August 4, Zach wrote a post on the store’s blog, asking for help from book lovers worldwide to diminish the debt and save the bookstore:

“The fact is that Wordsmiths Books is, as an idea and in execution, a great bookstore and it can be so much more given the chance. We are not fighting declining sales, nor are we fighting customer apathy, or even a lagging book market. We’re just fighting the unfortunate result of starting in the wrong place and the debt that that choice created.”

Within 24 hours of the blog post, Wordsmiths had an overwhelming local and national response, with pledges and money sent in from individuals and businesses. I caught the entire story in my car, and couldn’t help but feel moved. Okay, this bookstore is (obviously) a for-profit business, so why would I want to help them? Two reasons:

1. When I lived in a little country town that was literally two hours from anywhere interesting, I always traveled to Atlanta for the weekends. Decatur, an upper-crust suburb, is a great place to visit and part of my old stomping grounds. And despite its size of 3,000 square feet, Wordsmiths still remains a quintessential neighborhood bookstore.

2. I come to work to every day for this reason: to help keep independent bookstores in business within their own communities.

I stuck five dollars in an envelope and sent it in the mail. It isn’t much, but like they said, every little bit helps.

With a cry for help and a NPR interview under their belt, Wordsmiths is going into direct action this weekend with a fundraiser and offering different membership levels for donors. Check out their website for events and their blog with the latest updates on the crusade to save Georgia’s largest independent bookstore.

In the meantime, think about your local stores. With the overall decline in retail sales, the independent book business (especially used bookstores) can’t help but feel a hit–at least for most of them. PLEASE visit your local independent bookstore first for your book, magazine or newspaper needs. These owners really do this business every day sheerly out of the love of books, not profit.

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