The written word has informed my thoughts, broadened my world, sparked my imagination and deepened my humanity. So, it’s no surprise that I am a proud and devoted bibliophile. That’s why I’ve been so happy to read recently reported news that independent bookstores—once thought to be on the way out—are, in fact, thriving!
According to the American Booksellers Association (ABA), from 2009 to 2015, the number of independent ABA member bookstores has increased by 27%. Sales at independent bookstores are outpacing the growth of book sales in general. In January 2016, the ABA newsletter, Bookselling this Week, reported that U.S. book sales across all channels for November 2015 were up 7.5% over the previous year. At independent ABA member bookstores, sales were up 10%, even more than other bookstore categories.
I love indie bookstores and I believe their continued success is based on the fantastic service, community interaction and well-read and knowledgeable staff who are eager and excited to help you find what you’re looking for while sharing insights and recommendations. Ultimately, I think it’s the combination of technology with personal human interaction that helps these bookstores thrive.
Recently, in Publishing Perspectives, a feature article by Erin Cox explained how the rise of digital technology and social media has actually benefitted—not hurt—indie bookstores. There are many more low-cost services available for small businesses that help level the playing field against their larger deeper-pocketed competitors from accepting new forms of payment and accessing business technology, to managing and restocking inventory quickly, creating websites, using social media effectively and communicating regularly with customers. There are even new and plentiful ways to track participation and gather data from important community events like book signings and author readings. All these services help the small indie bookstore compete and thrive.
In the end, it’s ironic that the indie bookstore success model was made possible by technology and new media. To continue to support your local indie bookstore, be sure to check it out this Saturday, April 30th for Read on! Independent Bookstore Day http://www.indiebookstoreday.com
Does that make sense?
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