Steal with Pride (Part1): Indie Book Stores

Posted at June 8, 2011 by Comments Off

An independent book store is the ultimate curated experience—an experiment in relevance and an ode to individuality. Their success is dependent on stock selection, service and ambiance. And like a gourmet food market to a foodie, they provide an epicurean literary refuge to a reader.

New York City’s interesting network of great independent bookstores was like a trip down the rabbit hole. A January 2007 article in the New York Times Travel section titled “Independent Bookstores: Cozy, Friendly, Full of Surprises,” describes it well. It reads:

New York has always been known as a city capable of sating any desire: for money, for high fashion, for companionship. But if you’re just a bespectacled out-of-towner who suffers from simple book lust, its eclectic collection of independent bookstores can scratch your itch, too.

So yes, guilty as charged. That was me, the bespectacled out-of-towner and book luster, that walked into every random book nook I came across in Manhattan.

I was in love.

New York City’s indie booksellers take it upon themselves to provide a limited amount of quality reading material and a sense of community. They believe in good ol’ fashioned customer service and the local-is-better shopping experience. They boast friendly and knowledgeable staff, host book clubs and other events that create a sense of place.

I noticed, they have a formula:

  1. Right book, not every book.
  2. Staff requirement = Know thy books.
  3. Cozy, inviting and retro-chic.
  4. Read, sign, host. Engage thy customer.

Of course, New Yorkers also do their part– they support their indie book sellers. You’ve got all sorts of organizations that are out to preserve,  protect and encourage survival, including INBYC, an alliance of independent booksellers that work together to promote the cultural, literary and economic benefits of shopping at New York City’s diverse collection of bookstores.

All the while, I thought “Why don’t we have more of this back home?”

South Florida has few surviving independent booksellers that I know of, including  Books and BooksThe Book Store in the Grove, Libreria Universal and the Undergrounds Coffehaus. (Readers, please correct me if I’m wrong).

In the past year, we have seen other indie and not so indie bookstores go out of business, including Books-A-Million in Deerfield and West Palm Beach, the Book Nook in Wilton Manors and Boarders in Ft. Lauderdale and Plantation.

The reason? A May 2011 Sun Sentinel article attributes this to the rise of electronic book sales and e-readers.

According a February survey from Codex Group, which conducts book audience research, about 30 percent of Florida book buyers own an e-reading device, compared to 24 percent for the U.S. as a whole.

I say, its the lack of book-lusting South Floridians. A real book luster could never replace the mastered one-finger page flip and crinkle of a paperback for an e-version of whatever it is.

South Floridians could learn a thing or two from New Yorkers. New Yorkers not only like to read, they like the physicality of paging through a book.  They read on trains and buses, while waiting in line (and you are always waiting in line), at the park, on their lunch break, and even as they push their kids along in a stroller. It doesn’t stop. It is this market of lit-geeks and urbanites that feed the need for indie booksellers.
Attention readers and quixotic entrepreneurs: This can happen here too.



 Steal with Pride (Part1): Indie Book Stores

Related posts:

  1. Steal with Pride: Notes from a weekend in New York City
Category : Business,Uncategorized
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