Tuesday, July 26, 2016

Technology to the Rescue of Indie Bookshops?

We have recently become quite unaccustomed to hearing hopeful news about small independent bookstores, so it’s interesting to read this piece in the Seattle Review of Books blog that focuses on Oren Teicher, the chief executive officer of the American Booksellers Association (ABA). It seems he has developed a contrary opinion to the received wisdom that such shops are “always just about to be wiped off the face of the country because of a new challenge.
First, he says, it was that the B. Dalton and Waldenbooks outlets in every mall would kill local stores. Then, the big boxes like Barnes & Nobles and Borders. After that, the deep discounters like Crown Books. And onward to mass merchandisers like Walmart and membership stores like Costco. And, finally, along came Amazon, he says, followed by Amazon selling e-books.

But after years of shrinking sales and locations, indie stores have seen a slightly accelerating tick upwards since 2009 in new businesses, more stores, a bigger slice of the retailing pie, and a growth in overall revenue. Teicher cites several reasons, but one of them is the same wave of technology that, the story was supposed to go, would drown non-chain stores once and for all.
Freelancer Glenn Fleishman’s article could have benefited from more assiduous copy editing, but it’s still worth reading.

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