I recall in the early 90’s when Barnes & Noble was living high and opening superstores all across the country and Borders was sprouting up everywhere to compete with the giant bookstore chain, people complained the independent bookstores needed support. I used to think if the indies needed our support they should support us with lower prices and bigger stores. But that attitude has evolved a full 180 degrees and I now understand why indie bookstores are special and need our support.
I make it a point to shop at a town’s local bookstore whenever I’m visiting somewhere. The indie bookstore may have a smaller book selection but they are better at delivering service, recommendations, and knowledgeable feedback. They treat you like a person, not a consumer. Their stores smell of wood and paper and history. They house a community’s curiosity and dreams and they supply nutrition to the minds and souls of readers.
Indie stores may have had the formula right all of this time. Offer a smaller but curated selection of books. Service with a smile. Every purchase seems like a down payment on the town’s future, and contributing to a charity where the mission is to enlighten, educate, inspire and even entertain all of those who enter to worship words, ideas, thoughts, facts, history and fantasies.
The news for indie bookstores seems to be positive. There’s been growth every year in the number of store openings, net the closings, since the Great Recession concluded. In fact, the indies are growing while Borders closed, Barnes & Noble keeps shrinking, and e-books slump. This is great news.
But it needs to continue.
Indie bookstores grow when they grow their towns, when they meet the needs and desires of their patrons, when they prove their case that paying more to visit a store is more rewarding than ordering for less online or elsewhere.
Bookstores grow when they don’t take their customer for granted, when they act thankfully, and contribute to the lives that pass through their doors. They flourish with author events, areas for kids to wander and explore, a place to sip coffee and read a good book, and when they have staff that’s helpful, feeling, and friendly and above all, aware of the world’s events and books.
If 1992 Brian Feinblum could go back in time, he would have visited more indie bookstores and opened his wallet to them. Luckily, it’s not too late for me -- or you -- to do this in 2017 and beyond.
Long live the independent bookstore. Their success is ours.
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Brian Feinblum’s views, opinions, and ideas expressed in this blog are his alone and not that of his employer. You can follow him on Twitter @theprexpert and email him at email@example.com. He feels more important when discussed in the third-person. This is copyrighted by BookMarketingBuzzBlog 2017©. Born and raised in Brooklyn, now resides in Westchester. Named one of the best book marketing blogs by Book Baby http://blog.bookbaby.com/2013/09/the-best-book-marketing-blogs
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