'Indie Bookstores Hold Their Own' in the Berkshires

The Berkshire region of Massachusetts "is a renowned literary destination for classic literature thanks to attractions like Herman Melville's Arrowhead and Edith Wharton's the Mount," TownVibe Berkshire wrote, adding that independent bookstores are also holding their own

"Bookstores play a number of roles in their communities, from being gathering places for book- and writing-related events, to providing sources of knowledge, to being a place of respite from the flurry of everyday life," said Pamela Pescosolido, owner of the Bookloft in Great Barrington. "Many of our customers prefer the local bookstore to online shopping because we have experienced booksellers who are happy to give recommendations, ideas, or just chat about favorite books. Amazon can't do that."

Matt Tannenbaum, who has owned the Bookstore in Lenox for 42 years, observed: "A book is a great journey that a customer will take, so you want to learn how to size up your customer and size up your inventory and match them up. The exchange is not just a book for money.... I make more than money in my career. I make a very pleasant place to live. I love going to work just about every day."

The Williams College Bookstore in Williamstown "isn't exactly an indie bookshop, but its roots are in that world, and it is attempting to carry some of that into its current incarnation." Managed by Follett, the former Water Street Books moved to its current location on Spring Street last summer with the goal of becoming "a space for books and thought beyond just retail," according to manager Richard Simpson. "The store is so different from the previous location. We have so much more foot traffic now that we're on Spring Street, so more people stop in. The support has been so positive and beneficial as we break in the new store."

Michael Schiavo, a bookseller at the Bookstore in Lenox, is working toward opening his own bookstore, the Unruly Servant, in North Adams later this year. "When people go into bookstores, unless they are looking for a specific title, they don't know what they want, and they want to have that conversation and be guided in a way to different things," he said. "That hospitality element for great independent bookstores has always been there."

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