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Portable Magic: Bookshops in the Valley

There is nothing quite like a book to bring your imagination to life, and even though we have some fantastic libraries in the Valley, we have a good selection of places to buy books, too

We’ve all heard the news that independent bookshops are a dying breed. Even a store’s most loyal customers can’t help but share their dismay with the David and Goliath paradigm that bookshops face. But for all the odds stacked against them, when independent bookshops get it right they can transform communities. They become beloved by their towns and their neighbors, they become a destination for visitors, a cornerstone of Main Street, a center for thoughts and ideas, and they can even tip the balance when people are debating whether or not to move to a city or town.

Independent bookshops are so reflective of their owners and their communities. Each one is different; each as individual as its town and its owner. The titles in stock are as carefully curated as a home library, mirroring the interests and passions and tastes of both customers and owners. Independent bookshops, more than any other business, lay bare the thoughts and feelings of a place and showcase their community’s unique flavor. They are the places that people go for news, for entertainment, to find out what all the fuss is about, and what everyone’s talking about. When a friend tells you about a great book they read, odds are you will want to buy a copy for yourself. When you want an opinion about a book, your local bookseller is there for you. The service that bookshops provide to a community of readers isn’t measured only in the number of books they sell - it’s in the conversations that are shared across the counter.

Upon entering a bookshop there is a delicious sense of anticipation of where to begin. Simultaneously, when walking through the door we are aware of limitations. We can’t buy ALL the books; we have to make choices. Fiction or nonfiction? Bestsellers? Classics? Cookbooks? Memoirs? Should we thumb through beautifully-illustrated children’s books? Should we gaze at the local history section, the metaphysical titles, the poetry? This first moment in a bookshop is enchanting; trying to absorb the whole space all at once. Then begins a slow, languid tour of the shelves. When we leave with new books, anticipation shifts to getting home, curling up, and turning to the first page. It’s a cycle that book lovers never tire of repeating and that will never lose its luster.

Children love bookshops, too, their faces lighting up when they spy a new book which they can take home. Bookshop owners and lovers of literature generally love seeing the look on a child’s face as they plead with parents. That interaction and the fact that these young people love words and stories so much gives a sense that the future is bright. On the flip side, the fact that those parents have instilled a love of reading in their children and that a new book is a special treat is equally as exciting.

We are lucky to have several shops in the Uncompahgre Valley where you can find your next book. You may not know that the Friends of the Montrose Library have a darling booth of books for sale inside Country Flair or that Dog-Eared Books is located inside of Mauve on Main – both stores right on Main Street in Montrose. In Ridgway, Cimarron Coffee also has a little bookshop, while Ouray is home to the Ouray Bookshop, the only dedicated bookshop in the valley. At the other end of the valley, More Than Books on Main Street in Delta is packed with used books of all genres.

Each of these stores is a veritable treasure trove that can educate and inform just as well as entertain and intrigue, and supporting them keeps our towns vibrant and alive.

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