As G.K. Chesterton noted long ago, humankind takes an impish pleasure in proving the experts wrong, especially when it comes to their predictions for the future. In the category of pleasant surprises, the flourishing state of independent bookstores in the age of Kindle must be near the top of the list. Inkwood Books in Tampa, FL, located in a quaint hundred-year-old house turned into a store, is a magnet for book lovers in the area. With special events like book launches, literary-themed dinners and book clubs for kids, the magic and lure of books is alive and well here.
Stefani Beddingfield, Owner of the bookstore, believes that it is important to encourage people to continue reading books: "Books are (in my opinion) better than e-readers because it gives you a chance to not use a device for a few hours, plus there are studies that comprehension is better for print books. I think there are too many benefits to reading to list, but I think one of the most important is empathy for others and an understanding of other people, places and situations which help us understand each other as humans."
Inkwood is a full-service independent bookstore, the only one in the area. The technical description is "a general trade bookstore", which means that it carries the full array of children's books, adult fiction and non-fiction, cookbooks, history, Florida history and more. Customers looking for rare and out of print books are referred to specialist stores in the area. There is a shelf dedicated to bestsellers but the most popular titles include adult fiction and children's books.
Beddingfield says that the store is best known for "Book signings, cooking and cocktail classes, and events and our funny slogans on our street sign. We have a carefully curated collection and we do really fun events for kids and adults. We also host book clubs for middle schoolers, young adults and adults." Events include talks and visits by local Florida authors, who are a major draw. Inkwood is a regular stop for national book tours and signings as well.
Visitors appreciate the staff recommendations for books to read, and the fact that there's always a new selection for all ages and interests. Inkwood is also a favored destination for people looking for birthday and holiday gifts, greeting cards and wrapping paper. As befits an independent bookstore, it's the quirks that endear it to regulars. For example, during national poetry month, visitors are invited to recite their favorite poem to receive a discount.
Beddingfield says that what she loves about being the owner of an independent bookstore is "...the interaction with customers and talking about books all day long." Customers in turn appreciate the willingness of the staff to talk books all day long, and have taken Inkwood to their hearts as the community bookstore. We'll let a loyal visitor have the last word: "This place is awesome. Do yourself a favor - browse on Amazon, but come to Inkwood to buy."