The Renaissance of Indie Bookshops

Feb 14

Indie booksellers are capitalizing on a combination of social media presence and person-to-person marketing to make connections that larger booksellers don’t have.

Things are looking up for book lovers. According to a recent NPR interview, indie bookshops are enjoying “a bit of a renaissance.” In an article last year, the New York Times reported that independent bookshops are doing just as well as larger companies like Barnes & Noble.

Happy Avid

Janet Geddis hugging the Little Free Library behind Avid bookshop. She really loves books.

Avid Bookshop in Athens, Georgia, is one such case. Founder and owner Janet Geddis realized that to be successful, she needed to combine online social media presence with one-on-one people skills. Avid Bookshop consistently posts engaging material on social media, and its site includes an easy-to-use online order form. But Geddis hasn’t forgotten about more traditional approaches to good business: “One thing we do that’s often regarded as a novel approach is, in actuality, a tried and true thing that has fallen out of favor at many large chain stores across the country: we get to know people.”

Even the most devoted book lovers are becoming tech savvy. Pamela Spengler-Jaffee of HarperCollins told us, “Independent booksellers have always pushed the envelope.” HarperCollins and Turn the Page Bookshop in Boonsboro, Maryland are collaborating this weekend to live stream Romance Live, a book signing event bringing romance novelists Nora Roberts, Sylvia Day and Jeaniene Frost together.

Innovation in bookselling is nothing new to Fireman Creative. We’ve been making book trailers for publishers for a long time, and now we’re using our web application Vivo to help make this weekend’s event go global.

BookStores_smallOn Saturday, Turn the Page will use Vivo to live stream their web broadcast and invite others to watch, bringing romance readers across the country together. Spengler-Jaffee commented, “Vivo’s exclusive, interactive technology allows us to stream an exclusive author Q&A before the doors open at Turn the Page, and gives participating ‘virtual’ consumers the ability to buy signed copies of new titles directly from this fabulous independent bookstore.”

Technology is helping to bring readers together and get them engaged even if they can’t physically attend an event. “We know the line of readers wanting to interact with the many authors appearing in-store this weekend will flow out the front door, and way down Main Street in Boonsboro. But there are hundreds, or even thousands, more who’d love to interact with their favorite authors, who can’t make it across the country–or the world–to attend the in-store event. Luckily, romance readers are among the most digitally-savvy and they love to be part of the action, so they embrace the opportunity to tune in online.”

For now, books–and those who sell them–are doing just fine. And we like that.

Please join us for Romance Live this Saturday, February 15th at 11:15 a.m. to see for yourself how technology is shaping book sales and helping booksellers grow their business.

4 people have commented…

  • John Schulman-aka CalibanBooks

    Thanks Paul for posting this great blog about indie bookstores. As one of the last ones left in Pittsburgh, Caliban Bookshop is also enjoying good years, crowded aisles, interested customers, strong sales, etc. When we first started, it was the Big Box stores like B&N and Borders that were killing the indies; but when Amazon killed the Big Box stores, there was room again for indies to spring up — stores for people who like to browse and who eschew the cold, depressing world of online bookselling. Much as Amazon tries to tailor recommendations to its customers, that’s a far cry from a smart, well read, friendly book clerk steering customers to books of interest. As more customers realize this, there will be — there already has been — a backlash against the impersonal stupidity of online book sales, and back to us indies. Gives one hope for mankind.

  • It’s interesting that Amazon has inadvertently made space for independent bookshops again–a refreshing, accidental backlash that was created by technology itself.

  • Bowen Craig

    With every new electronic device of the twentieth century, someone inevitably predicted the death of the book. They were wrong. They’ll continue to be wrong. If Amazon was supposed to kill the independent bookstores, then why does every little town I know still have its own dusty, well-loved, magnetic little one?

  • Books do seem to have a staying power that other low-tech leisure devices–the Walkman, for example–lack. They have a charm that keeps people interested even when they have more high-tech ways of reading.