by Brittany Biggs
According to author David Abrams in “Resurgence of Indie Bookstores Fueled by Connection, Community,” indie bookstores are not only prevalent (and growing more so), but they’re successful. Jessica Hullinger at The Week found that “the number of stores has risen 27%,” but even more surprising is her find that these independent bookstores outpace others in general book sales. These small stores focus, not on remaining in “the dark ages,” where all good reading must be done in physical form, but on experience, community, and connecting with the communities that support them.
Unlike large book-selling chains like Barnes & Noble, these small shops have the advantage (albeit a small one) in that they are better able to meet, get to know, and learn from the hundreds of readers who stop by their stores every day.
The Last Bookstore (pictured above), in an effort to create an atmosphere that would give customers an experience they couldn’t otherwise get online, has an archway of books, something you wouldn’t see in a chain store. The environment and atmosphere is what draws readers to want to socialize and curl up in one of their reading nooks, rather than entering a sales-first, customers-later enterprise.
The people in these stores also draw customers into them, not only the people who come up with innovations like the arch of books, but the sales people who see their customers every day and know what the reader likes and might want to read next much better than any computer could.
Key to the survival of indie bookstores, it seems, is holding community-wide events. For example, Andrew Unger, from BookCourt, says his company holds “30 events a month,” enticing “hundreds Brooklyn’s citizens to its door.” With author readings, events for different sectors of the population, and truly responding to the needs and demands of the community, indie bookstores are thriving and will continue to do so as long as they remain communicative and attentive to their audience while providing a welcoming atmosphere for those readers to stay, enjoy, and learn.