When I debunked the myth (back in 2013) that Amazon was still killing large numbers of bookstores, I pointed out that the indie bookstores that were surviving and thriving had adapted to offer things Amazon could not. They were hosting events, and supporting their local book community.
It is now 2018, and the ongoing revival of indie bookstores is a less controversial topic than it used to be. The bookstores are still finding opportunities Amazon cannot exploit by stepping out of their comfort zone and even out of their front doors.
Crain's published a story this morning about bookstores that made a practice of
These entrepreneurs are reinventing the traditional brick-and-mortar bookshop model—and boosting profit margins—by increasing their assortment of nonbook offerings and stepping outside their stores to sell books off-site.
Last year Greenlight Books sold out an event featuring best-selling author Ta-Nehisi Coates at Kings Theater in Flatbush, with all 3,000 patrons buying a book. Off-site events made up 11% of the company's revenue in 2017, and more large events with big-name authors, including Anne Lamott, are scheduled for the fall.
"You can only grow so much in a physical space," said Greenlight co-owner Rebecca Fitting, "then you have to figure out ways to grow outside of it."
Fitting and business partner Jessica Stockton Bagnulo chose their new Flatbush Avenue location in part because of its 500-square-foot basement, large enough to stage promotional programs without interfering with the sales floor.
B&P is a local chain of seven bookstore slash restaurants, and one of the people speaking at this event was its founder, Andy Shallal. He mentioned that one of the reasons B&P was thriving was its off-site book sales.
Like the bookstores mentioned in the quote, Busboy & Poets has stopped waiting for customers to come to it; instead, it is meeting customers halfway by joining them as an active member of the community.
Have you seen bookstores leave the comfort of their brick and mortar locations, and venture out?