Indie bookstores, those unique havens full of mysterious corners and that wondrous ink-dust scent of aging paper, have always facilitated my love of reading, my budding imagination, and the importance of reading deeply and widely. Sadly, as I’ve become an adult, the digital marketplace has eaten away at these bastions of independent thought and the quirky, book-loving people who run them, have decreased in number.

But it’s not too late to remember that independent bookstores are more than just places to buy books, but centerpieces of their communities. In fact, in my community, in a little burb in the South Bay, BookSmart of Morgan Hill is struggling to survive. If some kid on the internet can raise $27K for potato salad, surely, we can come together and help keep an important community hub afloat. BookSmart is more than just a purveyor of books—owners Brad and Cinda have supported the renovation of an old theater for operation again; created a Thursday night music night that brings hundreds out in the summer, and have plans to create a non-profit arm that will partner with schools to offer events and education. You can donate here. If you even give just a couple of bucks, you’ll know you’ve helped to keep the world more colorful and stimulating. That’s even better than a caffeine buzz.

Still not sure?

Here are 10 reasons why indie bookstores are crucial to happy local communities:

1. Indie bookstores teach kids that reading is cool. Sure, you can find kid-friendly events and story time at your local chain store. But indie bookstores are seriously cool. Indie bookstores have personality. They’ve got nooks and crannies, and neato burrito knick-knacks made by your friendly neighborhood hippie crafters. Indie bookstores teach your little one that being different is FUN.

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2. Indie bookstores keep the cash in the local community, which benefits everyone who lives there, and are great places for first jobs and internships for bookworms. Your local bookworms need safe places to incubate.

3. You can probably walk to your indie bookstore. Where else can you find an event on a weeknight after work that doesn’t require a drive? Meet your pals there for coffee and a book discussion. Attend author signings. Have a date. There are a number of us who find bookstore-and-coffee dates irresistibly romantic, and afterwards, you can stroll the neighborhood hand in hand.

4. Indie bookstores are where the cool yet delightfully nerdy people in your town congregate. Your bookish tribe awaits you.

5. Indie bookstores offer a safe and stimulating place to hang out. See 3 and 4. No one’s going to bug you (or judge your Ravenclaw handknitted scarf) as you cozy up to your laptop with a mug of tea in the corner.

The Times Club by Stephen Cummings is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.

6. Indie bookstores are an invaluable resource to teachers, educators and homeschoolers.

7. Indie bookstores are a place where people totally “get” your obsession with Lord of the Rings or the mummification practices of ancient Egypt. In fact, they’ll probably have a suggested reading list. They’ve actually read the books they’re selling. This isn’t merely an hourly gig to pay the bills. Indie booksellers care!

8. Indie bookstores give your neighborhood character. Each one has a distinctive personality.

9. Indie bookstores are a showcase for other local authors, artisans and enterprises. If you love a book you find at your local indie bookstore, chances are the author is someone from your community. You could run into her at the farmer’s market and tell her how much you loved that one part where the thing happened!

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10. By supporting independent bookstores, you support independent thought, love of reading and the passionate people who support them. Bestseller lists are well and good, but no one is the boss of what you read! Feed your eclectic and wonderful literary appetite.

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