retail news in context, analysis with attitude

by Kevin Coupe

Interesting piece in the New York Times the other day about the independent bookstore business, noting that a decade ago, it was viewed as being on an inevitable and irreversible decline, "crushed" in price and selection by Amazon and even by Barnes & Noble, which had its own problems.

"But after years of losses," the Times writes, "they are emerging from the decimation, with the number of independent bookstores rising 21 percent from 2010 to 2015." And, "in a twist of fate, it is the internet - the very thing that was supposed to wipe them out - that is helping these small stores ... Some bookstores are investing in infrastructure, such as in-shop e-book printers and new back-end systems, while others are embracing social media as an inexpensive way to connect with new customers." Some also are investing in book-of-the-month club programs that they market over the internet to existing and potential customers.

The Times writes that "the online model is attracting customers even to unlikely places, like The Last Bookstore, which opened in 2009 in what was then a skid row location in downtown Los Angeles. Now the area is gentrifying, and more people are finding the store and posting photos of its unusual interior. The 22,000-square-foot shop is inside a former bank building and has quirky décor. Its science fiction collection, for example, is in an old vault.

"The Last Bookstore now has 24,000 followers on Instagram. Staff picks posted there frequently become the store’s best sellers."

Yesterday's FaceTime focused on the last Howard Johnson's, a place where, I concluded, the owners aren't even trying. This Times story shows what happens when people think like entrepreneurs, that use every tool at their disposal to be competitive.

It is an EyeOpener.
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