There's been a lot of talk about the demise of bookstores lately. B&N and Borders have been scrambling to keep their sales up, and independent bookstores are having an even tougher time. Neither group is helped by the price war being waged by Amazon, Wal-Mart and Target.
Yesterday's book section of the Huffington Post had this statistic: "In 1993, the American Booksellers Association (ABA) had 4,700 member stores. By the start of 2009, the number had fallen to 1,600."
That means that two-thirds of the ABA's membership (largely comprised of independent bookstores) has died off over the last sixteen years (or at least dropped their membership in their own trade organization).
In June, 2007, two management consultants, Praveen Madan and Christin Evans, bought a bookstore called Booksmith in San Francisco, determined to figure out how to keep independent bookstores alive in today's hostile environment. This month, they are doing a series of blogs about the experience on the Huffington Post.
Madan claims that "Independent bookstores account for 10% of the total retail market for books, but on the internet our combined market share is less than a tenth of 1%." He believes independent bookstores need to "reinvent and reinvigorate" their businesses. He suggests the following:
- Literary Community Building
- Author Services
- Enhancing the Browsing Experience
- Print on Demand
- New Markets
Author Jason Pinter also offered suggestions to help independent bookstores. Here are a couple of them:
- Don't put the bargain books right in the front of the store
- Cell phone coupons
- Make every author event available online ASAP