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This November, Love Your Bookstore

There’s a common misconception going around that there is only one bookstore left in America (hint: its name begins with “A”). However, reports of the death of the small, independent bookshop are—to borrow from Mark Twain—premature. The American Booksellers Association reports that in 2018 there were 2,524 independent bookstores in the United States, accounting for $10.28 billion in sales. And according to a 2018 Statista poll, of 932 people surveyed, 20 percent stated that they still purchase most of their print books at a physical bookstore, and 24 percent stated that they purchased an equal amount of print books in stores and online.

One of the reasons why small bookstores are still thriving in the face of competition from large online retailers, e-books, and audiobooks is that…well, there’s just something about visiting a bookstore. The ability to browse, check out the displays, talk with friendly and knowledgeable staff about the latest items, to heft a book in your hand and flip through the pages—spending time in a bookstore is one of the most civilized and stimulating experiences we can have these days. Even online shopping at an independent bookstore can be rewarding, due to their narrower focus and updates about new titles. When you find a bookstore that really “gets” you, it’s hard to search anywhere else.

To celebrate and promote independent bookstores across the country, the Love Your Bookstore social media challenge was inaugurated in 2018 and proved to be a such a hit that it’s back again this year, just in time for holiday shopping.

If you love a bookstore—say, for example, the UF/IFAS Extension Bookstore—you’re encouraged to visit there between Friday, November 8 and Sunday, November 17 and take a photo with the books you love or want to give (or receive) this holiday season. Post the photos to Facebook, Twitter, Instagram or other social media with the hashtag #LoveYourBookstore and challenge three to five of your friends to do the same.

The goal is to offer the divided world of social media a message that can unite us: that bookstores are important places, and they deserve to be celebrated.

This year, I took part in the challenge early by visiting the UF/IFAS Extension Bookstore pop-up store at EPAF in August.

One of the many reasons to love our UF/IFAS bookstore is its versatility. There’s the brick-and-mortar store just off Mowry Road on the UF campus, a great place to drop in on your way to Fifield Hall or the Straughn Center. You can also visit the bookstore’s online storefront at to see the latest featured products or search by areas of interest. The bookstore also brings its pop-up retail shop to events around the state. Their most recent appearance, at the Florida Master Gardener Volunteer Conference in Kissimmee, was one of the most successful events they’ve attended. If you’re interested in having the UF/IFAS Extension Bookstore at your event, contact Sarah Hensley,

The UF/IFAS Extension bookstore has over 400 publication titles available for sale, including books, identification decks, posters and multimedia. The bookstore specializes in the publishing and retail of research-based information that supports Extension programming in areas such as Florida-Friendly landscaping, integrated pest management, preserving natural resources, 4-H experiential learning, and best management practices for agriculture and horticulture. Publishing through the bookstore is a good means of revenue enhancement for your programs, as publication sales go to support Extension programming. And for friends and family on your shopping list, the bookstore carries many Florida-centric publications about gardening, cooking, and wildlife.

The bookstore is also the place to go for a wide selection of high-quality shirts, hats, mugs, stationary and other items branded with UF/IFAS, UF/IFAS Extension, and Master Gardener logos.

Throughout the Love Your Bookstore challenge, members of the UF/IFAS family will be posting on Facebook and Twitter. So whether you’re in Gainesville or anywhere across Florida’s 67 counties, I encourage you—no, I CHALLENGE you—to stop in at your favorite bookstore and post an image that spreads the word that learning, exploring and supporting local businesses is a vital activity—and a lot of fun.

See you at the bookstore!


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