2012 GOOD YEAR FOR INDEPENDENT BOOK STORES

2 01 2013

Re-post from Northern California Book Seller’s Association:

To hear the media and many in publishing tell it, 2012 was all about digital content. Seemed you couldn’t read a story about book publishing that didn’t talk about the new online future of bookselling.  And yet, one of the year’s biggest – and largely unreported – stories was the yearlong, double digit sales growth of independent bookstores. While some individual stores faced challenges related to the economy or weather disasters, the independent bookselling channel as a whole defied the “experts” by quietly posting month after month of increased sales – mostly of good old-fashioned printed books.

Why? Well, apparently, there are still readers who like to buy real books in real bookstores. And independents have been helped by several factors, three of which bear noting.

The Borders bankruptcy was felt by all bookselling outlets, and independents have received their share of that business. Also, the Shop Local movement continues to gain steam (helped, interestingly, by a still-struggling economy that has many folks wanting to hunker down closer to home). That’s good news for neighborhood- based indies that have long been touting the benefits of shopping with locally owned businesses. And Borders was a reminder of what can happen when customers choose to shop elsewhere for books.

Independent bookstores have also benefited from investments in their online presence, spending time and money that has led to more professional and sales-driven websites…and increased revenue.

One other factor that doesn’t get much attention but that is pivotal to the success of independent booksellers is their association with American Booksellers Association and their regional organization. Trust me when I tell you that no other category of retailers has access to the kind of education, advocacy, information, and overall support that independent bookstores do. Furthermore, the ABA’s influence in bettering publisher terms over the years has positively impacted the bottom line of every member bookstore.

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