Independent, Local Bookstores Adapting

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.

About Scot McKnight

Scot McKnight is a recognized authority on the New Testament, early Christianity, and the historical Jesus. McKnight, author of more than forty books, is the Professor of New Testament at Northern Seminary in Lombard, IL.

  • gingoro

    Book stores appear to have a death wish. We have a Chapters store not far from us that charges up to 80% above the US list. There is also a “Christian” book store a bit further away but they carry mostly junk and trinkets, rarely anything good like Scott or NT Wright.

    I largely have given up on the concrete and mortar stores and shop at Amazon where I probably spend over 500$ a year.
    Dave W

  • http://joeyspiegel.wordpress.com JoeyS

    If I were in charge of a bookstore I would capitalize on the “space” being provided. What if there were meeting tables/rooms, coffee, as well as book resources like e-downloads and networks? What if a book store functioned not only as a place of commerce but as a place of networking, creativity, and business? A hybrid of coffee shop, bookstore, and networking space. Here is an example of a “space” that bookstores could be modeled after: http://nwc.co/

    I spent 4 years working out of a coffee shop (even though I had an office). I loved the networking that was offered in a public space but it lacked access to information beyond my computer. A bookstore within would have been mighty convenient!

  • Barb

    There is a wonderful independent book store in Spokane: Aunties. it is mostly all books (new and used) in a wonderful old downtown building. Although I’m pretty much an Amazon junkie–I will buy a book at Aunties everytime I go there. It was quite busy (summer, mid-week) the last time I went. Seems healthy–I hope so.

  • KD2

    We have lost 2 major bookstore chains in our city in the last year alone! We too are left with just an overly commercialized, over-priced B&N. I LOVE Amazon– it is still the place to go for unlimited selection and a good price. But sometimes you need the book TODAY, and sometimes you just want to do some old-fashioned browsing! I hope that this change in the market will indeed allow the local, independent bookstores to flourish.

  • http://eatingasapathtoyoga.wordpress.com Lived in Wien!

    It’s really uplifting to see an author like Ann Patchett opening a new independent bookstore, especially in a town that needs it so desperately!

    http://www.tennessean.com/article/20110818/NEWS01/308180035/Patchett-bookstore-will-open-October?odyssey=tab|topnews|text|FRONTPAGE


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