Print is dead? Long live print!
Amazon may have conquered the book-selling market long before it entered the grocery market, but word nerds are finding their way back to indie bookstores, despite massive discounts on Amazon Prime Day July 11.
Even as the internet superstore sinks its claws into America’s literary capital with its first brick and mortar Big Apple bookstore this spring, bookworms will tell you that paper books and the community around them are alive and kicking.
In the latest sign of the power of print, a spate of indie bookstores will enter the New York City area in the coming months, even as larger chains have exited. Labor Department data show that the number of bookstores nationwide declined by 12% from 2012 to last year, but the American Booksellers Association, an independent bookstores trade group, has seen membership grow by almost 13% in the five years leading up to 2016.
Indies are thriving because of Amazon, not in spite of the internet behemoth. This is a story of two different types of bookstores: one with vast inventory, low prices and algorithm-driven recommendations, and another that lures customers seeking tightly curated collections and a community of bookworms. “I’ve lived my whole life a few blocks from where I want to open,” says Noëlle Santos of the Lit Bar, an upcoming space in the Bronx, who relies on “casual conversation” and a women’s book club she founded for inventory suggestions.
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Jeremy Jones, CFA
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