Independent Bookstores on the Rebound?


By Nicole Lamberson

In this week’s Publishers Weekly, the trade magazine takes a look at how independent booksellers fared this summer. A survey of two dozen independent bookstores found that many saw an increase in sales during the summer months over the previous year, fueled in large part by two popular releases: The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins and All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr. Also popular were adult coloring books, which provided an opportunity for additional sales through art supplies. Others noted that the much-anticipated Go Set A Watchman resulted in increased foot traffic.

One interesting and potential trend discussed in the article was how many booksellers reported an increase in kids’ book sales despite the fact that there was no big release in the YA genre. One store owner noted that, “sales are much more widely distributed among titles. And we are selling more and more kids nonfiction.” This also seemed to be the case for adult fiction, too. Many of the owners noted a variety of different books had been particularly strong sellers over the summer.

For many of the independent booksellers Publishers Weekly talked to, sales increased by double digits over the summer and owners projected strong sales would continue throughout the rest of the year and holiday season. Of course, it wasn’t positive for everyone; though, “only a few stores reported flat or down sales.” One bookstore in Caper, WY, cited the oil industry’s decline as the reason sales fell 7%. Another store in Fairhope, AL, noted that sales were down but that they weren’t seeing negative numbers. Both booksellers were somewhat optimistic for the rest of the year.

With an increase in summer sales and optimism about the coming holiday season, it seems possible trends will start to show independent booksellers may be making a comeback.


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