Support an Independent Bookstore. Please!

This isn’t what I had planned to blog about today, but after receiving an email from an independent bookstore in the small western North Carolina town of Sylva last week, I decided it was time for me to put in a plug for independent bookstores.

Some of us (including myself!) are guilty of ordering books from big online stores. By doing so, we might save a little money, but during this time of pandemic it just might be more important for us to order our books online from an independent bookstore.

If you’ve followed my blog for long, you know I’m a supporter of public libraries. I still am and always will be; however, the public libraries are closed now for an indefinite length of time. I still borrow e-books and some downloadable audiobooks from the public library, but many books are not available in those formats.

City Lights Bookstore & Cafe, Sylva, NC
City Lights Bookstore & Café, Sylva, North Carolina, in December 2014

Today I’m highlighting City Lights Bookstore in Sylva, North Carolina. Chris Wilcox and his staff there would really appreciate your ordering a book or two (or more!) from his shop,

The website states: “Selling new and used books, cards, gifts, journals, maps, and more since 1985.

Nestled in the Appalachian Mountains in western North Carolina, Sylva is a fairly small town. Although the county seat of sparsely-populated Jackson County, the downtown business district in only a few blocks long.

The town heavily depends on the summer tourist season and the faculty and students of nearby Western Carolina University. But classes are online now and the students have gone home until further notice.  With the summer tourist season looking doubtful this year, the independent businesses in places like Sylva need our support.

Chris is trying to stay in business, but he really needs our help. He and his shop hold a special place in my heart because City Lights was one of the first bookstores to carry my vintage postcard book when it was published in 2014. When I visited the shop, Chris invited me to autograph the copies he had in stock. That made me feel so good!

If you live in the Sylva area, Chris is offering curbside service on Tuesdays through Saturdays from 10:00 a.m. until 6:00 p.m. (except for siesta time from 3:30 until 4:00.) The store is closed for browsing to help curb the spread of Coronavirus-19, but you can browse on the shop’s website: and place your order for delivery via the United States Postal Service.

I love the stated goal of City Lights Bookstore:  “Our goal is to share the literature of the region with the world, and the world of books with our community.”

In addition to the books other independent bookstores carry, City Lights Bookstore has a wonderful selection of regional books, fiction and nonfiction, from the Appalachians, including books about The Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians.

Fighting this pandemic is a marathon, not a sprint. If you are able, please support City Lights Bookstore this week and every week or two. It would be a shame if City Lights Bookstore or any other independent bookstore went out-of-business due to the pandemic.

Chris has made it easy for you. If you want to order a book from his shop or set up a private wishlist, all you have to do is submit your email address through his website and verify that you’re a human being. He’ll then send you an email with a special link for you to use to set up an account. Easy peasy!

Chris has no idea I’m blogging about his shop today. I bet he’ll wonder what’s going on when he starts to receive book, journal, and map orders from my blog readers! His shop is closed on Mondays, but I imagine you can go ahead and create an account online and place your order.

If you’re ever in Sylva, drop by City Lights Bookstore and tell Chris that Janet Morrison sent you even though he probably doesn’t remember my name. It’s not like my vintage postcard book, The Blue Ridge Mountains of North Carolina was a bestseller! City Lights Café is located downstairs and is a good place to grab lunch.

Since my last blog post

I’ve been somewhat at loose ends. There are numerous books I could have read and just as many writing projects I could have worked on. It took most of the week, but I finally settled on concentrating on reading books about the craft of writing. Those books held my interest longer than any novels I picked up.

I reworked my “editorial calendar” for my blog for the next 12 months. More than a few topics in my #FixYourNovel series needed to be rescheduled for later this year and even into 2021.

Until my next blog post

If you’re fortunate enough to have an independent bookstore in your town, do what you can to keep it in business. If you don’t, I invite you to visit Sylva, North Carolina’s City Lights Bookstore online: I know you’ll find something you want to order.

I hope you have a good book to read. Who knows? Maybe I’ll get my mind back on reading fiction. Or maybe I’ll put some of the writing techniques I learned last week into practice and make some progress on my novel or the short stories I’m writing.

I hope you have creative time.

I hope you stay safe and well. Please stay at home if your job allows that during this pandemic. Follow the rules, if not for yourself, do it for the rest of us. You can do this.

Let’s continue the conversation

If you know of an independent bookstore that’s struggling during this pandemic, please give us the name and location along with website details, if possible, in the comments below or in the comments when I post this on my Facebook page, Janet Morrison, Writer. That way, my readers and I will discover some independent bookstores all over the world!


18 thoughts on “Support an Independent Bookstore. Please!

  1. A great post Janet. A wonderful thought, a true humanitarian thing to do at a time like this and always. I am fortunate to live in a city and a country, where local, neighbourhood bookstores, both of new books and old ones, are very popular and in my neighbourhood there are over twelve that I can think of and all are supported by the folk that live in this area. I always have been partial to supporting local business. When I lived in Miami Beach, I saw how most small businesses disappeared from the neighbourhood and if you wanted something you had to go to the big Publix or to Costco and others like those. I am very happy to see that in Spain, no such thing has happened or is happening. I support your idea and your invitation for us to buy from independent bookstores 100%. Very well said, Janet. Thank you!
    All the best and take good care, may you enjoy this day in health and well being.
    All the best,

    Liked by 1 person

  2. It is so nice of you to promote this bookstore. It is sad that these small stores are lost among the large giants such as Amazon. I pray that with your help and prayers they will receive more orders.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Thank you, Beverley. I hope independent bookstores will get the orders they need to survive this pandemic. There are very few independent bookstores in my part of North Carolina. There are more scattered throughout the mountains in the western part of the state. In the more populated parts of the state, most of the little bookstores have already been put out of business by Amazon and the big bookstores like Books-a-Million.


  4. I’m a former independent book store employee and also owe a great deal to them for selling my books. There is a lovely store in Williamsburg Virginia that I visit every year when I’m at my brothers. There is a woman working there who said she wanted to write, I got her to promise me she will write every day, even if for a few minutes. I check every year and she’s still at it, loving it as we geniuses of the keyboard all do..

    Liked by 1 person

  5. We live not far from Sylva and we love to support local stores of all kinds. As for my own books, there are distributed through Amazon but also by small regional stores in Montana, North Carolina and in Europe.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Thank you for finding and following my blog. Living near Sylva, you’re probably aware of the used bookstore run be the Friends of the Library. I’m a big supporter of public libraries, so any trip to Sylva includes a stop at the FOL bookstore.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Francisco, it appears that I’m about three weeks late acknowledging your comment! I just now saw it! I’ll blame the computer, but it’s probably an oversight on my part. I do apologize and thank you for your response to my post about independent bookstores. I’m glad to hear that Spain has not succumbed to the “big box” stores we have in the US. Neighborhood bookstores, business supply stores, grocery stores, and hardwares are all almost a thing of the past here. And now even some of the large retail corporations (like Neiman-Marcus) are declaring bankruptcy. There is speculation today that J.C. Penney will be next. So now the large department stores are going under as well as the small businesses. It’s going to be a different-looking world when we’re all able to safely get back out there. Stay safe and enjoy the rest of your weekend.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. No apologies necessary Janet. I’ve seen the hiccups that can occur in WP…it is a shame though about losing the small business in the US, I am glad that here we always shop at small business and bookstores are…well, before we were locked down…flourishing in all neighbourhoods…I love to read and here book fairs, for new books and for old and antique books are very common and popular, thank God. I recall when I lived in Miami Beach that the closest bookstore was about 20 miles away! In any event, I hope the world goes back to normal very soon but for now stay safe my friend. 😊

    Liked by 1 person

  9. My wife and I are starting our road trip the 1st week of June in this vicinity. We will try to vilify this bookstore if we can. Thanks for the idea. Stay well.

    Liked by 1 person

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