Borders is long gone. Barnes and Noble isn’t in the best health. And Waterstones in Britain has started selling Kindles. The reason? There is very little difference between big, impersonal chain stores selling books and a big, impersonal website selling books. Independent retailers, on the other hand, have a lot to offer that Amazon cannot: niche coffee, atmosphere, serendipitous discoverability of new titles and authors, recommendations from knowledgable staff, signings and events, to name a few.
Similar to what live shows still offer to indie musicians that iTunes can’t. Publishers’ Weekly found that this past summer was “one of the best” for many non-chain bookstores, especially family-friendly ones:
According to PW’s informal post-Labor Day survey of summer sales, even without the Hunger Games trilogy, most independent bookstores with strong children’s sections are doing fine. They’re at least even with last year, and newer stores like year-and-a-half-old Parnassus Books in Nashville, Tenn., are up in the double digits, 27 percent year to date. “Children’s brings parents in, who buy adult books along with kids’ books. It gives the store a lot of life,” said Parnassus co-owner Karen Hayes.