Monday, January 14, 2008

Link-Mad Monday: New Year, New Bookstores!

You may have already seen this, but the ABA has officially announced that 115 new independent bookstores opened in 2007! Apparently, it's the third year in a row that we've seen over 100 new store openings. You can look here for the full list of new stores -- -- there may be a new indie store near you. I found 4 of them just in the five boroughs of New York -- woo hoo! I'll have to update my own ongoing list of local indies, which is currently pushing 70 -- I love to pull it out whenever anyone laments the fact that there are "no more independent bookstores" in New York, and we often use it at my bookstore to refer customers looking for something specific. Now they've got even more options.

And more folks are discovering that's the case. In the Huffington Post last week, Michelle Haimoff writes about seven great New York indie bookstores, which she calls "The Secret New York Alternative to Barnes & Noble." McNally Robinson gets a nice mention, as do some of my other favorites.

(For another fun list, check out the (very subjective) Top 10 Bookstores in the World by Sean Dodson in the Guardian. What a travel itinerary that would be!)

Also in our fair city, Book Culture (formerly Labyrinth) has a new blog. If I recall correctly from my days working there during the coursebook rush, the Seven Shopping Tips for Students will be especially helpful (not least to the harried staff!) And the store's new events and marketing manager Kelly Amabile also has her own blog, with reflections on a life in books and working in an indie bookstore.

And it looks like 2008 is going to be another good year for indies. The ABA blog led me to Justina Chen Headley's Five Ways to Support Your Local Bookstore, inspired by the closing of her local Seattle store M Coy, and picked up by a number of other bloggers. It's another indication that consumer awareness about supporting indies is on the rise.

But also check out this letter to the Seattle Times from the very succesful Seattle Mystery Bookshop, objecting to the way M Coy's closing was covered in the media (thanks to Shelf Awareness for the link). It reads in part:

The local media are quick to mark the demise of an independent bookshop and say once again how it is nearly impossible for a small independent to survive. Difficult, sure. But not impossible....

If you want to know how independent booksellers really are doing, come ask us. Reacting to the closing of one bookshop by saying it is another death-knell of an industry simply isn't fair or correct and can be counterproductive. It can also mislead customers and drive more into the hands of the corporate Big Boxes, encouraging the difficulties that small independents face. Why not do a story about how some independents are doing fine because of their customers who want to support small businesses? Isn't there a story in that?


Based on the stories I've been discovering this week, clearly there is!

Do you have any good stories? What are your hopeful signs for the new year?