This week, indie bookstore favorite Books & Books announced they’ll be opening two new stores by the end of the year. Books & Books are based in Miami, but over in the Midwest, popular bookstore chain Book World announced they’ll be shutting all of their forty-five locations down by January 15th.
Books & Books’ Pinecrest pop-up shop | Image Via Books & Books
The e-book monster might have swallowed mega-chain Borders a few years back, but many indie bookstores have found a space to thrive. Others, like Book World, have not.
It’s tough to say exactly what makes or break an indie bookstore, but it seems like it all comes back to technology. In some ways technology makes traditional booksellers’ job harder. Amazon and Barnes & Noble are the de facto e-book royalty. If a reader wants to fill up their Kindle, they’ll shop on Amazon and maximize their nifty Prime perks. As more readers are picking up books for their devices, it makes indie booksellers’ job harder to get an edge in the e-book market.
But technology can cut both ways. CEO of the American Booksellers Association (ABA) Oren Teicher told Publishing Perspective, “as the cost of technology comes down, small businesses can access the same technology as big corporations.” Not only does this mean small stores can maintain a strong social media presence (e.g. Brooklyn’s Books Are Magic), but they also have access to affordable and efficient POS systems, accounting, inventory, and they can also design lovely looking websites.
E-books might be a staggeringly difficult mountain for indie bookstores to climb, but it can be done. ABA independent bookstores experienced a 10% increase in sales between 2014 and 2015, and the number of ABA indie bookstores increased 27% between 2009 and 2015. It seems like the numbers are actually on bookstores’ side, but they’ll need to hop on the digital train. Just not the same train bookselling giants like Amazon and Barnes & Noble are on.
The future of bookselling. | via GIPHY
Feature Photo by Freddie Marriage Via Unsplash