By Joanne Beckman:
What are you seeing with local bookstores? We have but one — a B&N in a big mall. That’s it.
Customers at Prairie Lights bookstore in Iowa City can enjoy a glass of wine, browse some of the downtown store’s 100,000 titles and catch their favorite author’s reading.
Or they can listen to the author streamed live online and order signed copies through the independent bookstore’s website as they listen.
In a rapidly changing industry that has a retail giant like Borders liquidating its stores, independent bookstores are finding their niche.
They’re offering e-book downloads, accessing networks with millions of books, and creating virtual book communities that have customers posting their favorite reads and listening in on book reviews. They’re also boosting what has worked well: personalized customer service and unique in-store products.