Today a friend told me about a sale at a bookstore near my apartment. Usually I’m stoked about book sales at local bookstores: collections are slightly more eclectic; and if you’re lucky enough to develop a relationship with the owners, staff, and other patrons, you get some solid recommendations and information about other book-things like author readings and publishing events.

Usually I’m stoked about this type of stuff, but today was bittersweet. The book sale was more of a book giveaway. The store is closing because an increase in the minimum wage coupled with a decrease in foot traffic means it can no longer afford the rent. All the books that weren’t sold in the weeks before the store officially closed were kept outside for people to take for free.

Though I had only been to this particular bookstore a handful of times, there are other independent bookstores in my city that I visit regularly, and most of my book purchases happen in those stores. I think it’s important to support local businesses, but I also realize that convenience is a high priority for a lot of people and that’s often the reason why businesses like Amazon attract more customers.

I’m curious to know how many of you purchase books from local stores versus large sellers like Amazon. What makes you pick one over the other? Is it convenience? Is it price? Is it the selection? Is there a realistic balance we can set to make sure we’re supporting families who can’t compete with big stores on their own?