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Talking Leaves Books presses on

Numerous independent book stores have gone out of business in recent years due to competition from big-box chain stores and the Internet.

A local exception is Talking Leaves Books, which has outlasted more than a half-dozen book stores, the local chain Ulbrich's and department stores such as AM&A's that sold books.

Proprietor Jonathan Welch is in his 32nd year operating the two eclectic, locally owned stores, and several events are being held to pay homage.

A new documentary by filmmaker Jacob Bricca, "Indies Under Fire," will be screened at 8 p.m. Saturday in Hallwalls Contemporary Art Center. A panel discussion with Welch and other participants will follow. Readings also are scheduled on Tuesday, Thursday and April 28. For more information, go to
Welch said he is concerned about the new Borders store in Orchard Park and a Barnes & Noble coming near the McKinley Mall in Hamburg.

"Basically, by the fall we will have six superstores in the Buffalo area. That does pose a threat to us," Welch said.

"On the other hand, the superstores are all the same everywhere, there isn't much character to them. We see ourselves as allied with other Buffalo independent businesses as places that make Buffalo a unique and special place," Welch said.

Another challenge, Welch said, is competing with Internet retailers able to offer discounts, savings on sales tax and convenience.

Amy Kendron, co-founding director of Buffalo First, an organization that fosters sustainability and self-reliance, said independent bookstores help create community and are essential to the health and vitality of communities.

"The biggest thing is they aren't selling shirts and shoes. They're selling information, which includes small, independent presses that are less mainstream," said Kendron, who will be on the Saturday panel.


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