Tuesday, December 11, 2018

The Birth of a Bookstore, A Christmas Story

by Cindy Sproles @CindyDevoted

In those days, Amazon issued a decree that a census should be taken of the entire book world. This was the first census that took place while Barnes and Noble still hung on by a thread.) And everyone looked around their own towns to see what stores remained.
Seeing how the shopping giant was gobbling up small bookstores, an author went up from her home to the local mall, because that was where she’d seen the last remaining bookstore in her town. She went there in search of a book, one pledged to be an excellent read.  While she was there, the time came to check out, and she headed to the register.

The author laid the book on the counter and the store owner gently lifted it up then rubbed his hands over it. He pulled it close to his heart and took in a deep breath. “It’s a wonderful choice.” He said. “It has pages you can dog ear and margins where you can make notes of special things you read.”

The store owner wrapped the book in a beautiful tissue paper and placed it in a lovely paper bag, not plastic, because the books in his store were special. Loved. Wanted. They weren’t labeled unavailable or sold out like on the Amazon pages of some. There was room for books on every shelf.

The author was so impressed with the love the store owner had for the book, that she quickly left the store and went where there were members of book clubs drinking coffee and discussing their latest read. It was their joy to keep the watch over the love of reading. 

The author appeared to them, and sang the praises of the small bookstore and of the love for books the owner had. 

And a revelation shone around them, and they were terrified that the Amazon giant would soon gobble up this sweet store.  But the author said to them, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people. Shop in this bookstore. Bring in business. Trust this bookstore owner will love your books and continue to give them a place of honor, because he loves them.” 

That day, in the small mall, new life was given to a little bookstore as the readers took their friends and flocked there to shop. The books that lined the shelves were purchased and with each purchase, the bookstore owner rubbed his hand over the book, lovingly wrapped it in pretty tissue paper and placed it in a special paper bag, not plastic. And the customers left, overjoyed that they had part in the rebirth of a bookstore. One that stood to be counted in the census Amazon performed, and one that could not be gobbled up. 

It’s every author’s dream to have their book on the shelves of Barnes and Noble or listed among the millions on Amazon. We feel as though we have arrived when our book dons these shelves, but many authors forget those small homegrown bookstores, struggling to survive. Bookstores where the owners know every book on each shelf and if they don’t house the book, they will happily order it for you and have it in their store with that same 2-day shipping you find with Amazon Prime.

This is not a bash Amazon or Barnes and Noble post, rather it’s a plea for the small mom and pop bookstores who genuinely love a visit from an author and have a burning desire to make a book a success.

I speak from experience. My local mom and pop store, took hold of my novels and sold over 2000 copies combined. He advertised them in the local newspaper, invited me in to do book signings and even assisted in my book launches making them such a success, that people stood in line to get in. 

Take time to visit your local small bookstores this Christmas holiday. Get to know them. Volunteer to help with book readings. Pay attention to how they personally love your books. Take your friends, encourage others to shop there and you too, will be part of the rebirth of a bookstore.

The Birth of a Bookstore, A Christmas Story - @CindyDevoted on @EdieMelson (Click to Tweet)

A local bookstore can be an author's biggest asset - @CindyDevoted on @EdieMelson (Click to Tweet)

Cindy Sproles is an award-winning author and popular speaker. She is the cofounder of Christian Devotions ministries and managing editor of Straight Street Books and SonRise Devotionals, imprints of Lighthouse Publishing of the Carolinas. Cindy is the executive editor of www.christiandevotions.usShe teaches at writers conferences nationwide and directs The Asheville Christian Writers Conference - Writers Boot Camp. 

She is the author of two devotionals, He Said, She Said - Learning to Live a Life of Passion and New Sheets - Thirty Days to Refine You into the Woman You Can Be. Cindy's debut novel, Mercy's Rain, is available at major retailers. Visit Cindy at www.cindysproles.com and book her for your next conference or ladies retreat. Also connect with her on Facebook and Twitter.


  1. Unfortunately, Cindy, there are no small bookstores left where I live. It is indeed a sad time we live in. Your story brings up an empty place in our towns. Unfortunately, our children and grandchildren may never feel the comfort of holding a book in their hands, lovingly marking the book of words and images that touched their hearts or cherishing it on their book shelf.

    1. Sorry to hear that. Check surrounding towns. If there is one, begin to support it.

  2. Wonderful message Ms. Cindy. God's blessings for sharing this ma'am. As messy as my workspace may be, as cluttered as my mind may become, my bookshelves are neatly arranged, dusted, and its treasured books ordered by size and topic. Yes ma'am; others share in our love of books and words. I saw your love for them this morning.

  3. The one in my town moved to a new location which is quite far from me. It breaks my heart. I haven't found one anywhere near me.

  4. So sorry. You can still order your books through them...hopefully.

  5. Cindy - you are SO spot on. We have one left and our entire writers guild members and book clubs are getting behind it to keep it so. I feel as lost and helpless in nearby Books-A-Million as I do in Best Buy among the geeks.
    Jay Wright; Anderson, SC

  6. Wonderful post full of hope and love for the unseen heroes of the book industry. Small bookstores are a treasure worth protecting and supporting.
    Thanos Cindy for the wonderful post!

  7. Thanks for the fun read and timely reminder.
    Challenge accepted!! :)

  8. Support your local bookstores. It's vital to their survival.

  9. I appreciate your idea to support local bookstores. Really, I do. Unfortunately, the local bookstore that would carry my books makes it so hard to even get a book into their store (and is not friendly to Christian fiction). I forget exactly their requirements, but it would cost me even more money to do so from what I remember.

    Keep up the good work! I love your writing.

  10. I truly enjoy visiting local bookstores. The atmosphere is always friendly and I don't feel rushed when looking at books. :-)

  11. Beautiful post, Cindy! We are privileged to have a mom-and-pop bookstore within five miles of our house.