I really like independent bookstores, but it is increasingly true that they need great hooks to get customers. I took a Bookselling class at PSU where we learned a lot about the history and traditions of selling books, but these methods aren’t cutting it any more. Patrons don’t just walk into bookstores and buy the books that catch their eye – they often find books they want and then go home and order them online from cheaper sellers.
But independent bookstores are far from dead, and many have great ideas about how to increase both foot traffic and revenue: Indie Bookstores of the Future.
Here’s some great ideas for indie stores:
1. Coffee shop (or even small café with breakfast and lunch items)
2. Event space for rent, not just for literary events, increases traffic
3. Special niche sections, perhaps about interests local to the area (like breweries for Portland)
4. Art displays, esp. book and literary arts
5. Events in general, but not just readings: poetry slams, releases, themed costume balls (people in the vampire and Steampunk interest groups, for example, usually have no problem shelling out a few bucks for a party!)
6. Espresso Book Machine/Microsoft Surface
7. Access to computers for downloading iBooks and e-books
8. Establishing partnerships/loyalties with small presses, writers, and even publishing professionals like editors and designers – also allows for combined marketing plans
These are all just simple ideas that I’m sure most bookstore owners have already had – but it makes me feel better about the possibilities for the future.