BooksOpinion

Porter Square Books: Your Fiercely Independent Neighborhood Book Store

Alexandra Kowal ’14 / Emertainment Monthly Staff Writer

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Porter Square Books, tucked away in a corner of the Porter Square Shopping Center, is a lovely little independent bookstore. Its proximity to the T is convenient and it’s worth a visit for any Boston book lover.

The place is light, airy, and colorful with large signs that denote genre – scifi/fantasy, mystery, and more. There are a few tables of books right when you walk in, with autographed copies as the very first thing to see. Porter Square Books is also big on recommendations, with staff picks featured prominently in the front of the store.

The bookstore isn’t tiny, but it isn’t huge either, and they make the most of their wall space without sacrificing openness. Though there are a ton of things to choose from, the store doesn’t feel crowded. Fiction lines one wall in almost floor-to-ceiling bookshelves, alphabetized by author’s last name. Nonfiction occupies a large section along the wall further back. Other categories include Teen Reads, Children’s Books, and Audiobooks.

Everything is labeled, making it extremely easy to find whatever you’re looking for. Along with books, there are a lot of cute knickknacks and other print items available for purchase. They have an intriguing card section, nice calendars, and racks of postcards. There’s even a little Christmas book display in the middle of the store in anticipation of the holiday. Not only that, but they have a Chanukah section, which is nice to see in terms of a little diversity.

After browsing the shelves, visitors can relax at Café Zing! with a cup of fair-trade coffee – or maybe some organic loose-leaf tea – accompanied by a baked good. They’ve even got vegan muffins and some gluten-free treats, seemingly in an effort to be all-inclusive. Café Zing! also serves lunch items, for customers in search of an actual meal.

The store has a bit of a Barnes and Noble feel but with an independent edge.

As for events – one of the marks of a great independent bookstore – Porter Square Books doesn’t disappoint. Its calendar is full of amazing events, with a variety of authors and subjects. The bookstore also has recurring events, including book clubs, and a story hour for children every Wednesday morning. Porter Square Books really enjoys giving back to the community, even helping out other local organizations – just this past September, they were the booksellers for the Boston Teen Author Festival, a local event celebrating young adult fiction.

Although fiercely independent, Porter Square Books isn’t one to shy away from technology like some bookstores that seem to want to stay in the past. There are Kobo eReaders for sale in their store, and they do online ordering and have downloads of language programs and audiobooks available for purchase on their website.

If you’re looking for a store that sells lots of used books, Porter Square Books probably isn’t the best place. But if you want to get new books while supporting a great independent bookseller, it might be just right for you.

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