Let me start by saying that I realize Amazon and Barnes & Noble are the two big choices for book buying, and honestly, I have a lot of respect for both of them. Both companies have been good to me and my work, and I deeply appreciate that. I’m glad they’re there.
But you know what’s awesome? Independent bookstores. I love indie bookstores, man. They are an absolute labor of love for the people that own and run them, and they are vibrant and, dare I say, critical pieces of community life around the country. So this holiday season, I would encourage you to check out independent bookstores in your area for all your gift-giving needs.
Or maybe check out the ones I have listed here if you don’t have a local indie close to you. These are the independent bookstores that I’ve enjoyed visiting around the country, and if you’re in the market for books this holiday season — whether it’s my books or just any books — I would strongly encourage you to check them out. The vast majority of these offer online sales and shipping, and many offer ebook sales via Kobo, too.
I totally get that indie books are more expensive — they’re generally full list-price, plus shipping. And sure, Kobo is a little more expensive than Kindle or Nook. Given the huge impact a good bookstore has on its community, I would urge you to shop indie anyway, if you’re able to do so. It’s fantastic karma.
Finally, I’m highlighting the stores that are offering the Geeky Giving charity anthology, which I was proud to be a part of this year. There are some great stories in there, and proceeds go to the Barrow Neurological Institute. Buying it is a win all around, y’all.
Borderlands Books (San Francisco): This is absolutely my favorite bookstore in the world, run by wonderful people who love science fiction, fantasy, horror and mysteries. They are immensely knowledgeable about their wares and super friendly to boot. They also have signed copies of all my books, and take orders over the phone as well as online. If you’re in San Francisco, the cafe is the perfect hang-out spot in the Mission District.
Mysterious Galaxy (San Diego): Another haven for SF/F books, and a fine one at that. Great, friendly staff and a brand new space filled to the brim with books. Yes, they ship around the country do Kobo ebooks, and they were also the supplier for Phoenix Comicon the past few years so you may find them at West Coast cons, as well. I’ve signed books for them in the past, but don’t know how many are left — best to check with them.
The Missing Volume (online and cons): This travelling bookstore hits up many of the major geek conventions in the South and on the East Coast, and has a sturdy online shop as well. They have a huge stock of signed books, including some of mine. Signed books are awesome gifts for super SF/F fans, by the way, though you knew that already.
Powell’s (Portland, Ore.): What more can you say about a bookstore that takes up an entire city block? And has three other outlets in the Portland area as well? And basically has every book under the sun? And they happen to be in one of the best craft beer towns in the country, which is yet another reason to visit. Well, that and they made the Daedalus trilogy a staff pick, which means I love them so much right now.
The Poisoned Pen (Scottsdale, Ariz.): A lovely, charming all-purpose bookstore in the heart of Scottsdale with a great and very patient staff. How patient? They’ve hosted Kevin Hearne’s Elevengeddon mega-signing over the past couple years, which I very much enjoyed being part of. They have many signed books (possibly including one or two of mine), but best to reach out to them and see if they have what you want.
The Twig (San Antonio, Texas): Speaking of Kevin, this is where I first met him — we sat together at a WorldCon signing thing back in 2013. Another vibrant indie in the heart of the city, and the staff are really dedicated to helping folks find great books. They also sell Kobo ebooks, but if you want ’em to get credit for the sale, sign up for your account at the link on their site.
Boulder Book Store (Boulder, Colo.): This huge, multi-level store used to be an opera house or some such, and it’s right in the heart of beautiful Boulder, which is also home to many find craft breweries. (Just saying.) It’s the perfect store to get lost in for a few hours. And yes, they have Kobo ebooks too.
Phoenix Books (Burlington, Rutland, Essex and Chester, Vt.): I love Vermont, and the folks at Phoenix are quickly becoming the go-to bookstore for the entire state. The downtown Burlington store has a great staff and a fine selection of books of all genres. Plus, you can’t go wrong visiting downtown Burlington.
Singularity & Co. (Brooklyn): Whoa. This place is a SF/F fan’s dream shop, stacked to the rafters with new, used and vintage genre books (and more than a few toys and knick-knacks, too). They sell a bunch of cool geeky swag online, and they have a used-book subscription service. If you’re looking for a particular book, best to drop ’em an email or just visit the shop.