The days of leisurely afternoons in the neighborhood bookstore are slowly giving way to the speed and convenience of ordering books online. Fortunately, several independent bookstores have brought their brick-and-mortar personality and charm to the Web. Here's a brief tour:
Kramerbooks & Afterwards is the original bookstore/cafe. Their motto is "Serving Latte to the Literati Since 1976." Nestled in an expanded storefront in Washington DC's bustling Dupont Circle, the store offers books, magazines, readings, signings, espresso and a terrific restaurant under one roof. (An interesting sidenote: Kramerbooks is the bookstore that was issued a subpoena demanding Monica Lewinsky's ordering records. They fought this and won.) While their does not include search capabilities, you can order books through them via e-mail.
The Tattered Cover BookStore is a Colorado landmark. It is not only one of the top five attractions in Denver, but has won one local newspaper's "Best Place to Meet Your Mate" award year after year. While it is true that shopping online denies you the opportunity to pick up a mate or a latte, you will receive the same extraordinary customer service and recommendations online from the store's highly-knowledgeable staff.
Everything's big in Texas, right? BookPeople is no exception. This bookstore, located in the culturally vibrant town of Austin, offers its customers four stories of books, a cafe and a nicely organized Web site.
Powell's BookStore in Portland, Ore. fills floor after floor with new, used and out-of-print books. Its Web site offers book lovers across the country the joy of shopping in this terrific, independent bookstore. From their site, get recommendations for a good read, browse the bestsellers list or request a hard-to-find favorite. Perhaps the handiest feature of the Powell's site is the ability to request a title and find out in what form it's available: new hardcover, used hardcover, paperback or used paperback.
For a comprehensive list of independent bookstores throughout the United States (many of which have Web sites), check out BookWeb's Bookstore Directory.