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Thoughts from 2014 About Indies

As another year comes to a close, we look back for a moment at how Politics and Prose has continued to grow and deepen its presence in the community. In 2014, we expanded a number of traditional store activities, offering more author talks, classes, and literary trips, facilitating more self-published works on our in-house book-printing machine, and making more robust use of social media. We also ushered in some notable firsts, including our first time as official bookseller at the National Book Festival, plus a new arrangement with Busboys and Poets in which P&P will manage small book sections in five Busboys restaurants around the Washington area. And we began experimenting with occasional P&P pop-up stores at Union Market.

There were a few notable seconds as well—among them, the publication of the second edition of District Lines, P&P’s anthology of original work by local writers and artists, and the second post-Thanksgiving shopping visit to the store by the president of the United States.

As exciting and encouraging as this year has been for P&P—and for independent bookstores across the country—we remain acutely aware that success in this business hinges most critically on loyal patrons who choose to shop with us and who understand the important role that indies play in the community. Heading into a new year, we thank the many customers whose patronage ensures that P&P will continue to thrive, as well as the countless authors, agents, and publishers who appreciate the contribution made by independent bookstores to public discourse and civic life.

So in celebration of another good year for indies, and with gratitude to the many people who support our cause, we share the quotes below, which appeared during 2014 as a “Quotation of the Day” in the book industry newsletter Shelf Awareness:

“I don’t think that anything actually matches the experience of actually going into a good independent bookshop.” –Neil Gaiman in a Salon interview

“There are times when I’m traveling, and feeling exhausted by the strangeness of a place, when the appearance of a bookstore with literature in a language I can read makes all the difference. An hour or two browsing the shelves is like running into an old friend on the street in a foreign city.” --Karen Havelin, a writer and translator from Bergen, Norway, in a tribute to her favorite Oslo bookstore

“The independent booksellers that survived the past decade realized that to make it, they must be tirelessly innovating, constantly engaging their communities and building their clientele, and offering an experience and expertise that cannot be found anywhere else... What a time to be a bookseller! But best of all, what a very wonderful time to be a book buyer.” –Lizzy Boden of Open Books in Chicago in a Tumblr post

“Maybe I'm out of touch, but I’d rather go to an actual shop—preferably a small one—than to a harshly lit superstore, or, worse still, a website. I don’t want to buy my books and my toilet paper and my clothing all under the same roof. I want beauty in my life. I want charm. I want contact with actual people. It is, for me, a large part of what makes life worth living.” –David Sedaris in an interview with Mary Laura Philpott, editor of the Musing blog at Parnassus Books in Nashville

“We need more bookstores and libraries. They’re tactile. They’re immersive. They’re humane. They’ve always been trendy. But more than that, they are staffed by dedicated booklovers who curate collections of actual books, and books are the written record of the human condition...I met my wife at the public library and proposed in a bookstore. And you can’t do that on a Kindle. (Though I’m sure someone is working on it).” –Jamie Ford in a post on the Hive blog

“Indie bookstores are the last line of reason and discourse in this country." –James McBride speaking at the Seattle Arts and Lectures Literary Arts series

On behalf of the entire staff at P&P, we wish you and your families a very happy, healthy, and peaceful 2015.

--Brad and Lissa