Last year I arranged a booksigning at an independent bookseller a good distance from my home. There aren't many independents left in my part of the world. Those that are about are struggling to compete with the big chain stores. For someone like me, those hard-fighting independents are my best bet for getting a booksigning. Because my small ebook publisher doesn't take returns, the big stores won't order my books.
The small bookstore where I had my signing ordered my books and I agreed to take extras off his hands if we didn't sell many. Well, we didn't. The number sold was slightly more than zero, but it certainly didn't pay for my gas. He admitted his store did the majority of its business selling children's books and he sold few romances. I wish I had know before I prepared a prize basket and a brief talk on writing romance. But I can't fault him.
I fear the independent bookseller will go the way of the small hardware stores with their wonderful smells and hard word floors. The small bookstore's peaceful quiet with no piped in music will drift quietly into the night. They don't have aisles of the latest CDs and DVDs or rows of magazines and they can't stalk the midlist books while still having room for the latest bestsellers.
If there is an independent bookseller near you, stop in and support them if you can. They may not have a gourmet coffee shop with overpriced deserts and college students with their laptops out, but they will have a friendly educated staff and owner grateful for your patronage. Every person who works in those little stores will love books as much as we do. Support your independents.