Note: Since this piece was submitted, a new owner has purchased The Wild and is working to keep the long-running book store open in Noblesville, Indiana. You can help by donating to the cause via Indiegogo!
Last week, I noticed (embarrassingly enough on Facebook, not at the actual store) that our local children’s bookstore is closing. I moved back to my hometown after getting married, and The Wild Bookstore has been downtown on the square for at least that long. When our kids were small, their weekly story time broke up many a rough week being cooped up with two small children. Our oldest would complain when we would go to the library’s story time instead, saying that “The Wild has way better reader voices.” We even started a tradition of going there on Christmas Eve Eve—December 23—to let the kids pick out a book.
I hadn’t considered that the tradition would only last a few years, and I was surprised at how saddened I was by the loss. Whenever we went, we would buy a book or two, but obviously not frequently enough. When I saw that they had closed, I couldn’t help but feel guilty for not supporting them more. The Wild is located in Hamilton County, the fastest growing and wealthiest county in Indiana and regularly on those “best places to live” lists that magazines put out every year. To my knowledge, The Wild is the only locally-owned bookstore in Hamilton County. How can a place be a good place, let alone a “best place,” to live without a locally-owned bookstore?
After spending a few hours daydreaming about the bookstore that I would love to open in that exact spot, I decided that I needed to start putting my money where my mouth is. I am passionate about buying local when it comes to food, and anyone who knows me has heard me rant and rave about supporting local businesses. But because my book collection was getting a little out of control a few years ago (and because I’m a treehugger), I stopped buying new books in favor of checking stuff out from the library and only buying used copies of titles that I wanted to keep.
Then earlier this year, I was listening to Seth Godin interviewed on a podcast in which he argued that books are an amazingly inexpensive education investment. I’m sure I had realized that before, but hearing him say it struck a chord. I figured I should start to support writers whose work I appreciated, just like I try to support local businesses (especially since I would love to write a book of my own one day). Couple this revelation-of-sorts with The Wild closing, and I was convicted to buy more books and to do so via a locally-owned bookstore.
However, as I mentioned, there aren’t any locally-owned bookstores in my entire county, so instead, I figured that I will support an independent bookstore that I love and from whom I have received some of the best book recommendations over the years: Byron and Beth Borger’s Hearts and Minds Books in Dallastown, Pennsylvania. Byron is quite probably the most well-read person I know (albeit virtually), and I rely on his recommendations for my to-be-read list. In the past, I’ve typically bought a few books from Hearts and Minds each year. Since The Wild news, I’ve been buying more books and buying them from Hearts and Minds. If I can’t have a local bookstore to call home, I’ll adopt one from Pennsylvania.
I’ve been put in charge of building a library for Project Eden, a nonprofit I’m involved in here locally, so I emailed Byron with an order of several titles he had recommended on creation care. He wrote me back a six-plus paragraph e-mail highlighting some other titles, asking lots of questions about Project Eden’s audience and recommending additional resources. I certainly don’t get that kind of treatment from Amazon or Barnes and Noble. In addition, over time, we’ve built a relationship, despite not being able to go to Hearts and Minds in real life.
We should obviously support our neighborhood independent bookstore if we’re fortunate enough to have one, but, if you’re like me and don’t have one, then perhaps you should consider adopting one from another neighborhood. I couldn’t recommend Hearts and Minds more if you’re in market for a new bookstore—and friend.