McNally Jackson Books

New York, New York | C.2004

Photo Credit: Raj Garigipati

Amid the bustling streets of New York, a peaceful quietude can be found flipping through pages of print in the city’s indie bookstores. For sixteen years, McNally Jackson Books has welcomed both serious book seekers and casual book browsers. But for Sarah McNally, the independent bookstore founder, selling books is in her blood.

Sarah grew up in a bookselling family; her parents, Holly McNally and Ron Robinson, founded McNally Robinson Booksellers which would become one of the largest in Canada. A former book editor herself, Sarah soon realized her desire to open her own bookstore after working with the Harlem Book Fair.

But the industry itself has had its ups and downs. In the 1970s, almost all book retailers were independent, then with the introduction of mall chains, online retailers, and eventually e-readers, closures of indies was commonplace. Surprisingly – and thankfully – things have changed once again.

Over the past 10 years, indie booksellers have had a significant resurgence thanks to a shift of not simply selling books, but focusing more on their place in the community. They are carefully curating the books they sell and reflecting the voice of their communities while hosting events and acting as a space for convening, not just commerce.

In 2015, the first Independent Bookstore Day was launched by writer Samantha Schoech & the Northern California Independent Bookseller’s Association to celebrate these stores. Now, more than ever, it is important to support these community centers & local anchors that they truly are.

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