Stepping into a bookstore means possibility: shelves full of brightly colored titles; the sharp, clean smell of books. There might be armchairs for reading, or the scent of brewed coffee in the air. No matter the decor or the locale, an afternoon of browsing offers worlds to explore or to revisit.

In the past decades, the advent of the internet and online book buying has challenged independent bookstores, driving many to close and others to barely hang on. Indeed, even the big chains have been affected, driven into bankruptcy. Many communities have been left without a bookstore at all.

That’s no longer the case in Worcester.

In the past two years, the city has been lucky enough to welcome not just one but three new independent bookstores, all owned by couples committed to the city and to the life of books. Every store has a unique ambiance and approach, and

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“I’ve seen increases in demand before. There was a bump during the Civil Rights Movement and during the Black Power Movement. People were searching for information. There was interest around the time Roots came out too.”

“Roots,” written by Pulitzer Prize-winning author Alex Haley, became a wildly popular nine-hour miniseries that gripped the country in 1977. Haley based the epic tale on his own family history from his ancestors’ enslavement though several generations to their liberation.

Black Classic Press has operated as a publisher for 42 years and has printed books for 25 years, Coates said, adding that he has seen books help power movements for decades.

Donya Craddock, co-owner of The Dock Bookshop in Fort Worth, Texas, said she could attest to the correlation.

“Every time we have a community crisis, the bookstore is a place for people to vent on,” she said. “We have created a space for

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