I'm probably preaching to the choir today, but I'll say it anyway. Buy your books indie please.
I'm saying it again because I know (really, really know) how tempting it can be to just swing by Barnes & Noble or get on Amazon.com to find a book you want for quick and dirty immediate gratification. I get it. But it really makes a difference if you check out the indie bookstores in your town first.
Yesterday I had to locate some copies of a local author's book for a school book club (Farwalker's Quest by Joni Sensel) and I needed them ASAP. I was lucky enough to find the copies with the courteous help of a few indie booksellers.
This process always goes smoother if you just give them a call first and tell them what you're looking for. If they don't have it, chances are they can order it in quickly, or may even refer you to another store! I have never had customer service so good as when I've gotten it at one of Seattle's great little book shops. All For Kids is gone, but Ravenna's Third Place Books is awesome (not to mention the great food at the in-store restaurant, Vios and the rockin' pub downstairs), Mockingbird Books in Green Lake is a new favorite (with café too), the University Bookstore has an amazing selection and well read staff, and an old favorite is The Secret Garden Bookshop in Ballard. I love, love, love that store and only wish it were closer to home. The people there are as great as the books they carry and they also do the wonderful service of showing up at the monthly SCBWI meetings to give us the word on the latest hot material on the shelves.
All of these stores have helpful and knowledegable staff (will help you find a good read for that tough customer on your list), convenient services (pre-signed copies or copies signed to order), and often have superb lineups of authors and events (more than I can attend!). Besides these benefits, buying indie supports your local economy in immeasurable ways. It's just the right thing to do.