ReKindle Your Love for Real Books 

We can all recall the scene in the 1998 movie, “You’ve Got Mail” where Meg Ryan drags her sad little Indie bookstore doorbell down the deserted street after being forced out of business by Tom Hanks’ big bad bookstore. It’s now 2020, and that bookstore market has seen its share of plot twists: Independents have been gobbled by Borders bookstores who’ve been gobbled by Barnes & Noble who’ve been henpecked by Amazon who’s now opening its own physical bookstores across the country. It’s been a tumultuous ride, but the good news for bibliophiles is that real books are an actual trendy thing again.  

For the past several years, independent bookstores have been thriving, and print sales are rising while e-book sales are declining. According to the American Booksellers Association (ABA), independent booksellers are doing better overall and trending upward. Even Barnes & Noble, the largest bookstore chain in the U.S., might be rescued. It was recently acquired by the hedge fund Elliott Advisors in a move that publishers and agents hope will save the giant from collapse.

Analysts believe that indie bookstores are doing better because customers are making a conscious effort to support local stores. Customers have developed a fondness and a connection to their favorite indies where they have fostered relationships with owners, staff and fellow devotees – people who also appreciate the experience of real books, touching them, smelling them, toting them, discussing them, showcasing them or passing them on. Social media has also become instrumental in building relationships and helping indie sales.

The ABA states that bookstore membership has grown, helped by the fact that more people are reading printed books than electronic versions. It states that “indie booksellers remain a resilient and entrepreneurial group, and independent bookstores offer a unique and unparalleled opportunity for the discovery of new authors and great writing.”

Locally, booklovers can frequent a variety of sites (see sidebar) to discover—or rediscover—often with a coffee shop inside or at least nearby. Booklovers can also check out Johnson County’s public libraries, which are undergoing a 20-year comprehensive library master plan to adapt and modernize existing buildings (or to build new ones where necessary) to accommodate forecasted population growth. The Monticello library branch in Shawnee was the first to undergo the upgrade in 2018, followed by the Lenexa City Center this past June 2019. The new 40,000 square foot building occupies two floors at the Lenexa campus and is a striking and beautiful facility to enjoy. (The Blue Valley branch is purported to be next on the list.)  

If your new year’s resolutions included “Read more books,” Kansas City has you booklovers covered.

Try these area bookstores:

Barnes & Noble Booksellers

Multiple locations, including

Town Center 
(913) 491-4535 

Oak Park Mall
(913) 492-8187

Rainy Day Books 

2706 W 53rd St., Fairway
(913) 384-3126

Green Door Book & Gift Shop

11800 W Railroad Ave., Overland Park
(913) 766-8646

Trinity House Catholic Bookstore 

6731 W 119th St., Overland Park
(913) 652-0080

Half-Price Books

Various locations, including Olathe Station
(913) 829-9959

Prospero’s Books 

1800 W 39th St., KC
(816) 531-9673

Higher Grounds Cafe 

3523 E Red Bridge Rd., KC
(816) 763-6220

Mardel Christian & Education

7102 W 119th St, Overland Park 
(913) 498-0739

The Well Bookstore

Leawood, KS
(913) 897-0120

Aquarius Bookstore

3936 Broadway Blvd., KCMO
(816) 931-6303

Afterword Tavern & Shelves

1834 Grand Blvd., Crossroads
(816) 569-3001

K.D.’s Books

241 SE Main St., KC
(816) 525-1366

Our Daily Nada

304 Delaware, Rivermarket
(816) 982-9230

Wise Blood Booksellers

300 Westport Rd., Westport
(816) 800-6014

Willa’s Books 

1734 E 63rd St., KC
(816) 419-1051

Anastasia’s Books 

10416 E 63rd St., KC 
(816) 356-8300

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