Monday, April 27, 2009

A Change in Trends

“Nothing is permanent but change.” - Heraclitus

There has been talk on blogs, including my own, about the inability of independent bookstores to compete against chain stores. Therefore, I was taken by surprise when I read on Boston.com that an independent store, Brookline Booksmith, welcomed patrons of a nearby Barnes and Noble store that had recently gone out of business.

According to the article, Unchained Success, “Booksmith is not the only independent bookstore proving surprisingly sturdy in a stormy economy. Other small booksellers are withstanding the downturn with the same combination of community involvement, personalized service, events, e-commerce, and such extras as cafés or gifts or used books, that enabled them to survive the onset of megachains and Amazon.com.

"There's a standard line that the independents are collapsing and they're all going to disappear soon. I think that's a little dated," said John Mutter, editor of the online newsletter Shelf Awareness, which tracks the book industry. "Most of the independents that are left are much stronger than the group as a whole before."

There was also good news in the article about the general book business during this serious recession. “Nationwide, sales in bookstores of all types fare better than in many businesses. The Census Bureau reports that bookstore sales in January 2009 were virtually unchanged from January 2008, compared with an 8 percent decline in total retail and food service sales. The big chains did not share that good news. Barnes & Noble's store sales dropped 5 percent last quarter compared with 2007, capping a year that CEO Steve Riggio called "the most challenging year that the company and the industry have ever experienced." Fourth-quarter sales in Borders superstores plunged 15 percent, and the chain closed 112 of its Waldenbooks locations in 2008.”

I hate to hear of any bookstore closing, but I am pleased to know that folks are still shopping for books and that maybe the independent bookstore won’t become obsolete after all.

Thanks for stopping by.

Tags: Heraclitus, Barnes and Noble, Booksmith, Amazon, Boston.com,

6 comments:

L. Diane Wolfe said...

That is good news!

I think bookstores will be pared down to a sturdy handful, and that may or may not include many chains. Borders intends to reduce its Waldenbooks from 300 to 50 over the next year. (There used to be close to 700 just five years ago.) That's sad, as its the Borders that are hurting. Waldenbooks should've never merged with them!

I also believe bookstores will go down to just a handful because of the Internet.

L. Diane Wolfe
www.circleoffriendsbooks.blogspot.com
www.spunkonastick.net
www.thecircleoffriends.net

Marvin D. Wilson said...

Wonderful news indeed. I LOVE the independent bookstores, especially those that specialize. I have a favorite one in Ann Arbor, called Shaman Drum - they carry all sorts of spiritual books from every different religion and/or spiritual paths from all over the globe and reaching way back into antiquity. Great atmosphere and very interesting people you meet there.

Helen Ginger said...

Thanks for the good news. It's good news that an independent is thriving and really good news that book sales are still strong. I like hearing that!

Helen
http://straightfromhel.blogspot.com

Christina E. Rodriguez said...

Since moving to a small town, I've fallen in love with all independent, mom-and-pop type brick-and-mortar stores, not just bookstores. News like this is very assuring!

conarnold said...

Thanks for sharing this good news, Jane! A couple where I live have closed, and I'm glad to hear that some independent bookstores are doing well.

Morgan Mandel said...

I'm glad to hear the independents are surviving. I'm also sad that a Barnes & Noble closed. They seem to support authors more than other large stores.

Morgan Mandel
http://morganmandel.blogspot.com

Jane's Ride - Novelist Jane Kennedy Sutton's journey through the ups and downs of the writing, publishing and marketing world