Independent bookstores are making a quiet comeback.
By Rieva Lesonsky
Remember the Tom Hanks/Meg Ryan movie You’ve Got Mail? It told the tale of an independent bookstore owner (Meg) struggling to hang on as big bookstore chains (Tom owned one) declared war on independent bookstores. (This was all before Amazon declared war on all kinds of brick-and-mortar bookstores.)
Well, much like the rebels who took on the evil Empire, indie bookstores are “quietly resurging across the nation,” reports The New York Times, “registering a growth of over 30 percent since 2009 and sales that were up around 10 percent last year, according to the American Booksellers Association.”
Indie bookstore owner Chris Doeblin, who is seeking to open his fourth Book Culture location in New York City, told The Times the resurgence is partly due to popularity of the farm-to-table movement—meaning it’s all about consumers supporting local businesses.
Would an indie bookstore work in your city? Perhaps, but first, you’ve got a lot of research to do. Start by contacting the American Booksellers Association, the trade association for independent bookstores, to help you. The Times says today’s indie booksellers “are fellow readers who converse knowledgeably and jot down their current favorites on helpful bookshelf notes.”
Loving books is just one aspect of being a bookstore entrepreneur, however; marketing savvy is another. The Times notes Book Culture hosts “various social activities and sells plenty of products like stationery, greeting cards, children’s games and toys, even backpacks.”
It was always a dream of mine to own a children’s bookstore—I even had a theme and name for it. I’m otherwise occupied now, but delighted—and excited—to know independent bookstores are making a comeback. If you open one, let me know. I promise I’ll buy a book—or two—from you.
Photos Property of Book Culture, Inc. Photograhper: Philippe Cheng