The Independent Bookstore’s Second Wave

Because (thankfully) Amazon Prime isn’t your only option

Photographer: Mariah Crabb

When Borders closed its doors in 2011 after a solid 40 years in business, many thought it would mark the historic fall of all bookstores. After all, earlier that year some of the largest bookstore chains—Walden Books and B. Dalton—had already closed, and the future of bookstores seemed grim; Barnes and Noble remained one of the only big-name stores left. With the rise of electronic reading devices like Kindle, many believe that purchasing a physical book is less common and less appealing now that there are multiple technology devices to compete with. I, and many other literary lovers, believe the contrary. Just because the use of technology devices has risen and big-named bookstore chains have been disappearing in recent years doesn’t mean that bookstores aren’t a relevant option. Independent bookstores are still around, and many are even thriving in today’s economy.

Independent bookstores are usually successful because they are often grounded in a sense of community, and are known for their “coziness.” You can just grab a friend and browse, or curl up in a corner to read for an hour. For example, right in the heart of Dinkytown is a charming used bookstore accurately named The Book House.  Matt Hawbaker, co-owner and manager of the aforementioned shop, says “independent bookstores are important because they serve as hubs for literary and academic activity by keeping books (and the ideas within them) circulating throughout the community. They can also be places for the like-minded and not-so-like-minded to meet and engage with whatever is, well, on their mind.”

The Book House continues to be a viable option in this neighborhood and today’s economy by curating their stock to reflect the desires of their customers, leaning “heavily toward academic fields” while maintaining great quality in other sections as well. They also maintain modern relevance by selling their books online, giving them the ability to ship books worldwide, a necessity in today’s Amazon-dominated environment. At the end of the day, niche stores like The Book House are still able to survive (and even thrive) by knowing their market and catering to it as much as possible.

For more information, you can visit The Book House at their Dinkytown storefront or online at