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Perspective: Bookstores are back!


Think back 10 years ago. A certain online retailer was rapidly changing how we purchase books, putting long-standing bookstores out of business. Experts predicted we’d all soon be reading books on e-readers. Then the global pandemic hit, with bookstore sales dropping 30 percent.

Yet, two years later, the plot has changed.

The American Booksellers Association saw significant growth in its member stores at the end of 2022 and trends are positive through 2023, with more than 200 new stores set to open within the next year. Close to home, an independent bookstore in downtown Rockford just moved to a larger space and a couple announced plans to open their bookstore in Rockton this fall.

We get so much from these bookstores. Increased human connection. The touch, feel and smell in the stacks. The communal experience wandering around with muted excitement wondering, “what treasure for my brain will I find today?”

Indeed, my visits to independent bookstores in Chicago, Madison, Milwaukee and Rockford the last 10 years have yielded a trove of books I didn’t even know existed, on topics I didn’t even know I was interested in. And, the bargains? Don’t even get me started!

Now, I’m polyamorous with books and have several going at once, almost always non-fiction.

Currently on the literal nightstand: “Blood in the Water: The Attica Prison Uprising of 1971 and its Legacy;” “Atlas Shrugged;” “Peter Jennings: A Reporter’s Life;” “The Founding Myth: Why Christian Nationalism is Un-American;” and “Colossus: Hoover Dam and the Making of the American Century.” Oh, and all of these, with one exception, were purchased at independent bookstores.

My advice? Put down the e-reader. Check out a bookstore. And always bring reading material wherever you go.

I’m Wester Wuori and that’s my bookish Perspective.