Independent booksellers have taken a beating over the last decade. The mega chains have come (though mostly gone) and then technology swooped in just in time to do the last holdouts in. Or so it seemed. But as a piece in Publishing Perspectives points out, the reality is quite different from what we had feared. The big chains have mostly subsided and technology has provided an unexpected evening effect.
While the rise of technology seemed like it would change the bookselling business dramatically and perhaps for the worse, it actually provided opportunities for independent bookstores that didn’t exist previously and evened the playing ground. “As the cost of technology comes down, small businesses can access the same technology as big corporations,” [Oren] Teicher [CEO of the American Booksellers Association] noted. Not only for promotion via websites, social media, and email blasts, but also the technology used to operate businesses, such as POS systems, inventory, accounting, and web design. “We are able to run a more efficient business at a cost we can afford.”
And, when it comes to enhancing their place in the community, social media only expands on that relationship. Vicki DeArmon, Marketing and Events Director for Copperfield’s Books in the San Francisco Bay Area, noted that bookstores and social media are a perfect promotion match. “Bookstores are a community-based edifice, so is social media,” said DeArmon. “We are constantly stoking the conversation with our customers in-store and online.”
Because these independent bookstores are often reflective of the communities in which they are based, they can tailor their messages in a way that a superstore or online retailer cannot and, perhaps, even interact with customers that they see regularly.
“Since much of social media success (though not all of it obviously) is about voice and authenticity, independent bookstores offer a lot that’s of interest: conversations about books, news about our community, perspectives from real people/booksellers, behind-the-scenes look at our store,” said Jessica Stockton Bagnulo, Co-Owner and Events Director for Greenlight Bookstore in Brooklyn.
The full piece is here.