Wednesday, June 08, 2011

Bookstores are Adapting

Some of you may remember a bit of a rant I went on about Bookstores last month. In that post I said:
if bookstores want to stay “the primary vehicle for book discovery” they need to totally revamp their thinking.
Well, people listened to me! Okay, they never even heard of me, but some bookstores ARE taking the initiative to save themselves. Yay! I love bookstores.

Publishers Weekly has an article about how some bookstores are developing new concepts of what a bookstore is. They are reimagining their stores.
"I think there's hope," said events director Karen West of Book Passage in Corte Madera, Calif., which is considering adding an Espresso Book Machine to offer self-publishing to those at the store's writing conferences.

HugoBookstores, which has three locations in greater Boston, will begin testing knitting next month. … co-owner John Hugo decided yarn could be the right sideline.

Bluestockings in New York City, for example, has begun commissioning cards from local artists, while [Words] in Maplewood, N.J., stocks T-shirts from all nine local elementary schools.

At McLean & Eakin Booksellers in Petoskey, Mich., manager Matt Norcross does tech seminars for customers to show them how to download a digital e-book and associate e-books with his store.

At Village Books in Bellingham, Wash., co-owner Chuck Robinson has begun selling iPads through an agreement he worked out on his own with a local Apple dealer, who built a kiosk in his store.
What ideas do you have to keep bookstores relevant and in business?


  1. Hi Helen, Guess they better do something - we have, I think, about one independent book store left - we have a number of wonderful used book stores which is where I hang out when money is burning a hole in my pocket or at the independent one. What I remember as a young independent reader was having knowledgeable staff members - I'd say to the owner (at that time) of Prospero Books in Ottawa 'I want to read Thomas Hardy, where should I start?" and he'd say, "start with Tess of the d'Ubervilles" and off I'd go. Book sellers need to stay ahead of the curve - it will be tough but they can sell their knowledge with the books - then that is what we'll be buying - we'll want to come to their bookstores and buy coffees and t-shirts with pictures of Virginia Woolf on the front - because we will be in an atmosphere that we like - where people LIKE literature. What a concept.

  2. I absolutely agree that they've got to figure out an angle, quickly. And publishers need to, too.

  3. The book machines could save everybody so much money in the long run, while expanding business. Sad to say, I'm too used to shopping at 2am in my bunny slippers to go to a bookstore anymore.

  4. Laura, I had this image of you in your bunny slippers walking through Barnes & Noble. Tee-hee.

    Long ago, author Jan Grape and her husband had a mystery bookstore near Austin. It was a treasure and so was Jan. You could walk in and if she didn't recognize you, she'd ask you what you liked to read and then not only point you in the right direction, but make great recommendations. After many years, they sold the store. The store is very much missed. Luckily, I still see Jan a couple of times a year.

  5. I'd like to see bookstores and publishers especially be ahead of the curve rather than behind it. I'm not sure how they'll do it though. I guess they'd have to really calculate future trends, or boldly be trendsetters themselves.

  6. I'm so happy to see them thinking outside the box. The entire publishing industry is changing fast. This may be herald the re-emergence of indie stores.

  7. I love knitting the 'yarn' idea into the store's tapestry, lol. These are good ideas, and I do hope those who lead and manage bookstores can 'think tank' the new age and keep brick and mortar a viable and profitable place of business.

    I think anything of a social and hands-on helpful nature will help. There will always be people who like to gather together, share a cup of java or tea, discuss books/ideas in person, and those who 'learn' better with direct personal example and hands-on lessons - these are some of the things that person to person environment will always have the advantage over the internet and "e-friends" and "e-learning". So expose the competition's weaknesses, and bolster up your strengths!

  8. I like the idea of printing on demand, although my guess is for small independend books stores, there vould be some space issues with that. Knitters and readers could certainly co-exist...but I'm not sure you could do both at once. ;).

  9. My local B&N has expanded its toy section, a smaller bookstore has a full coffee shop and cafe... I think associating the ebooks and the book machine are great ideas, if you can't beat 'em, join 'em, right? :>)

  10. I hope more bookshops get on board with this sort of thing and save themselves, as there are still so many of us who love them - particularly the independent bookshops.

  11. How about gambling? Seems to be the go-to revenue solution for cities that are in desperate straights. B&N could tuck a little off-track betting salon right next to the Starbucks shop.

  12. All good ideas. Borders advertised book clubs but every time I showed up for one, the staff knew nothing about it. Having someone consistently there who get to know the customers and the store is a big plus. Everyone wants a "Cheers" moment, even if your name isn't Norm.

  13. That's some creative ways to make money.

    I prefer the peaceful bookstores with a big collection of Penguin Classics >:)

    Cold As Heaven

  14. We have two independents left - one in bankruptcy, the other doing okay. One thing they do is have live music at certain times. I think anything the store does to attract customers is a good thing, as long as it's in good taste.

  15. I don't knitting will ever draw me into a bookstore!
    I see a lot of independents that also offer gifts or have a coffee shop.

  16. Joanne, you're probably right. They need to be trend setters because right now they're being left behind.

    A nearby B&N hosts writer groups like the local chapter of Sisters in Crime. They have their monthly meetings there.

    Liza, the smaller stores might have issues with space and price for the print on demand machines.

  17. That's an idea, Christopher. One nearby bookstore that eventually went out of business had a wine bar.

    Ann, the B&Ns used to have Community Relations Manager (a good friend of mine was one), but then they started cutting back and the CRMs were the first to go.

    Cold as Heaven, that's fabulous. I didn't even know penguins could write. ;-)

  18. Karen! Your group could sing there!

    Never say never, Alex.

  19. Hi Helen .. that's good to know .. and I do read about different models - offering food etc ... but in a small community professional university area.

    Re 2nd hand book stores .. here their are complaints about charities, such as Oxfam, using shops in main streets and offering books - which then take away from good old 2nd-hand stores ..

    Lots of change on the way .. thanks for the information .. Hilary

  20. It's about time the local bookstores started looking at what Barns&Noble are doing.

  21. My local bookstore, Porter Square Books offers ebooks. And I hope they never go away because I find so many great books through them.


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