I live in a remarkable place. Remarkable for its beauty and charming citizenry of course (ahem), but also for the fact that is has four, YES FOUR, independent bookstores. That, in a place with approximately 5000 people in the greater region (say, if I drew a 100 km diameter circle from where I live). Granted, there are a gazillion visitors to the area each year and they certainly do help, but we like our books here and I personally love our bookstores. Now, whether they all survive in the end is another thing, but they're hanging in there. (All have to sell other stuff -- coffee, kites, more coffee, kayak trips, expensive outdoor clothes, etc. -- but the primary purpose in three of the stores is to sell books.)
If you've ever wondered why writers and publishers whine about the dearth of independent bookstores, check out this blog post by Annick Press president Rick Wilks. As he says, independents mean diversity and that is a fine thing in many (actually, all) aspects of life: the more diversity, the more choice for you dear reader. The more diversity, the more knowledgeable staff who've actually read the books and care about giving you the best information (and book, of course) they can. So, just as when you shop for food (and, well, just about anything) cheap is most often not better. Cheap means someone is getting screwed. So, please, when it comes to books, put sticker price aside and support your independents.