Why You Should Shop Indie Bookstores by Amey Zeigler
What is an independent bookstore?
Independent bookstores can be mom and pop shops or sprawling temples to the written word. No matter the size, independent bookstores are independently owned and usually locally operated. How are they different from big box bookstores? Big box bookstores are other brick and mortar stores owned by a company. A big company. Think chain store. You usually find them in a strip mall next to a sporting goods store.
Why should you shop indie bookstores? I’ll get to that in a minute, but first let’s talk about the rise and fall of the big box store, why independent bookstores are still here, and what they have to offer.
Amey Zeigler and Her Daughter with Lindsay Sterling and her sister
@BookPeople | Lindsay Sterling Signing
Us v. them: 1990’s independent bookstores versus big box superstores
You may recall a rom-com from the late nineties with Tom Hanks and Meg Ryan titled You’ve Got Mail. If you haven’t seen it, Kathleen Kelly (Ryan) owns a little independent bookstore. She takes on Hank’s character, Joe Fox, the owner of the big box store, Fox Books who moves in around the corner. The big box store threatens her livelihood with cheap books and comfortable seating. The movie points out that independent booksellers know their stuff, but in order to stay afloat, they can’t discount and provide limited inventory.
Amidst the rom-com romp of developing a relationship with an unknown guy online who turns out to be her enemy in her business-life, You’ve Got Mail explores the relevant topic of the slow demise of independent book sellers. *Spoiler alert* Kathleen’s store is outfoxed by Fox Books and must close its doors. Although the movie still has a happy ending, the big box stores, do not. Back in the nineties, it would seem, the only thing independent booksellers feared were big box stores’ discounts and cappuccino bars. But if only they could see their future.
Amey Zeigler, Her Daughter and Alton Brown
@BookPeople signing his cookbook
David versus Goliath but who is Goliath?
In a David and Goliath show-down, independent and big box bookstores fought for customers, struggling to stay in business or to stay on top. Sadly, in this case, David didn’t win. Goliath did. Big box stores ruled the pre-Amazon era, putting small booksellers out of business, gobbling up and consolidating bookstores to form superstores. But then something happened. Technology advanced. Websites became more secure. One-click shopping was invented. Another Goliath emerged. Online retailing began to outpace brick and mortar retail shops in book sales. And that would make even Joe Fox sweat today.
But where does that leave independent bookstores?
Because they invested in smaller inventories, some locally owned bookstore survived the initial rise of online retailers. Independent bookstores could maneuver faster, adapt and regain a foothold in the marketshare. But there’s still a struggle to compete with free shipping, unlimited inventory, and one-click buying. Ironically, the big box stores and local indie shops have joined forces to compete with the online retailer. The enemy of my enemy is my friend?
Amey Zeigler, Her Daughter and Marissa Meyer
@BookPeople | Marissa Meyer Signing
Why should you shop independent bookstores?
See I told you we’d get here eventually. What would we miss if these Independent bookstores were to disappear as a victim of online retailer domination?
As I writer, I would miss the approachable local book buyer from our indie bookstore. For self- published authors, they offer web advertising options and prominent book placement in their store to help indie authors get their books out there.
They host book signings from local and national authors. I’ve been to a few signings of a couple of my favorite authors and started a huge signed collection of books thanks to independent bookstores.
Our bookstore hosts the local chapter of Society of Children’s Book Writing and Illustrators monthly meeting and critique groups.
I’ve seen a myriad of book clubs, reading time, petting zoos, and workshops held at my local shop. They promote literacy and events like the Texas Book Fest.
They boast a local author section. I can get my books positioned in a special place reserved for local authors. It makes me feel so special.
And they have an eclectic mix of books. One of my friends works at the Big Idea Bookstore in Pennsylvania, and he said about his indy bookstore: “The book selection is amazing (largely because I curated most of it over the course of five years!), stocked with titles you never find in a big box store and with inviting sections like Know Thy Enemy (with books written by enemies themselves such as the infamous Ayn Rand or V.I. Lenin or Francis Fukuyama) or Dystopian Literature or The Underground (full of history books on pirates, inner-city gangs, etc.).” In other words, you can find whatever you’re looking for.
So before you click on a buy button, think of what you are really buying. Convenience over personalization. Independent booksellers aren’t out of the clear yet. The fight is still ongoing. Online retailers are fast, but they are impersonal, remote, and unfeeling. Huge even. An independent bookseller is your town, your city, close to your heart, invested in your community. We should invest in them.
The Swiss Mishap
Sweet Romantic Comedy Looking for a heartwarming, fun and funny romantic comedy?
Lainey needs a recommendation for chocolate
Yves needs a promotion
They both are attracted to each other.
There are no inter-office relationships allowed.
Will Lainey succeed? The Swiss Mishap is a charming, heartwarming story where Lainey overcomes fears, cultural misunderstandings and mishaps, and jealous co-workers. Look inside to read more.
Amey loves writing about different places because she grew up moving all around the United States. In her books, she explores the whole world. She is also the author of Baker’s Dozen, a Romantic Suspense Mystery.
She lives with her husband and three children near Austin, TX. Follow her on BookBub and sign up for her newsletter at www.ameyzeigler.com