It is a question that sparks thoughtful discussion among book lovers: independent bookstores or "big box" bookstores?
"The difference between a local author and a national author to independent bookstores is simply a matter of question about who prints, who distributes, and who markets the product,"according to Dr. Glen Moody, owner of I Love Books, an independent bookstore in Kingsport. "Many independent bookstores love to work with and promote local and regional writers, regardless of whether their books are published by big New York publishers or are ‘printed to order,’ one copy at a time."
This personalized approach to book selling is one of the advantages of an independent bookstore. Instead of being consumed with volume and sales, an independent bookseller has the luxury of educating readers and developing a loyal customer base. Yes, even in a time of technology, e-readers, and online book sellers.
As a matter of fact, Dr. Moody sees nothing wrong with combining sales strategies. While I Love Books carries 100,000 titles, which is larger than most independent bookstores, customers only see the front display area of about 15,000 books. The store also sells online at www.ilovebooksstore.com and ships books daily to customers all over the world.
Direct and online sales are only two of the services offered by this bookstore.
About 25 percent of the inventory at I Love Books is gently used, out of print and rare books. Paperbacks can be had for as little as 50 cents and books can also be traded. If a favorite book is a little worn (or falling apart), Dr. Moody is one of the few hand bookbinders in the state. He also offers appraisals on estates, libraries, and rare books.
But his loyalty to regional authors is one of the store’s strengths - and it is quite evident throughout.
A quick look around the store reveals books by noted authors Lisa Reed Alther, Dr. Shelton Reed, Adriana Trigiani, Barbara Kingsolver, and Wendy Welch, but also local favorites Vince Staten, Jack Goins, and photographer Kenneth Murray. Books by relative newcomers J.S. (Jason) Moore, Scott Pratt and Keith Bartlett line several shelves, representatives of the trends in self-publishing and "printing on demand."
Dr. Moody explains that one of the best-kept secrets in publishing today is the large percentage of books that are "printed to order," including the current No. 3 bestseller, "The ObamaCare Survival Guide."
Regional books and local authors are just part of the wide offering of categories at I Love Books. There are also children’s books and literary classics, travel and field guides, among many others. Dr. Moody teaches Ph.D. courses in organizational leadership part-time at Oxford Graduate School, so of course the store also carries a large collection of books on leadership, business, economics, writing, research and communication.
In addition to newly-published titles and bestsellers, there is also a good selection of books about Kingsport and other towns in the area - some are current publications and others are scarce, out-of-print items. One of the hottest current titles at I Love Books is "The Duck Commander Family," based on the extremely popular television show, "Duck Dynasty."
I Love Books Bookstore is located on the upper level of Kingsport Town Center, near JC Penney and Italian Village. For more information, call 423-378-5859 or visit www.ILoveBooksStore.com.