For books, the majority of our members prefer to buy from amazon.com. Local bookstores in Bloomington have a limited selection of titles. Also, the Caveat Emptor by the square sometimes carries good books. Although they may be somewhat pricey, you can find some great, out-of-print books if you get lucky. Since they depend on people selling their own books, selection can be very limited at times.
For equipment, you can find standard tournament sets, rollup boards, clocks and bags at the Game Preserve on the square. They have a limited selection, but you can get some basic, standard equipment without breaking the bank or having to wait for shipment.
The House of Staunton: Specializes in high-quality wooden and plastic sets
(The Best) Chess Tables: Low to mid-level quality wooden sets, but some very nice chess tables.
The Mid-Atlantic Chess Instruction Center: Russell Potter, USCF Senior Life Master, has been teaching chess since the 1960's. His focus is on teaching adults over the phone. His rates are excellent (about $25 per hour, less if you pay in advance) and his curriculum is well designed with formal lectures about different topics. A link to his site appears here because I (Juan Manuel Soto) have been taking lessons from him for about 3 years and I can personally vouch for the quality of his lessons. If you're an adult serious about improving, check him out.
The chess market is Windows-centric. That means that if you don't own a Windows-based machine, you have limited choices. However, there are some good, strong chess programs out there for the Mac and some OpenSource software for Linux.
Linux users please let me know which software is out there. Email me or post at out forum any suggestions/reviews.
ChessBase (Windows): Pricey, but if you're serious about chess, it's a very useful tool.
ChessAssistant (Windows): Cheaper alternative to ChessBase, but maybe with some limited capabilities (??).
ExaChess (Mac): The only chess database program we know about. Fast and efficient.
Rybka (Windows): Current Computer World Chess Champion. Deep analysis and a host of features.
Fritz (Windows): By ChessBase. Deep analysis, training, etc. I personally like the plai English, game-commenting feature.
PocketFritz (Windows Mobile): A great companion when you're travelling or want to run quickly some analysis.
Shredder (Mac, Windows,iPhone, Windows Mobile): I can't say much about it, but I own Shredder 9 for the Mac. For that version I can say that the program strength is at the Grandmaster level, but its game analysis features are lacking.
SigmaChess (Mac): Based on the HIARCS engine (which also makes chess software for Windows, iPhone, Palm, and Windows Mobile). Great strength and standard (on-screen +-) analysis.