Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Independent Bookstore Survival Tips

The rise in rents, spread of corporate chains, popularity of online shopping, and increase in e-book reading have made it difficult for small bookstores to survive.
BookCourt in Cobble Hill, Brooklyn, is doing more than cobbling together a living.
Photo via thebrooklynink.com

Despite it all, some indie bookstores are actually thriving. How are they doing it?

Using six independent bookstores in Manhattan and Brooklyn as examples, New York magazine points out how small booksellers are not only surviving but thriving in the current climate. What's their secret? According to New York magazine, for a small bookstore to be successful these days, it would help if it:

1. Owns the building in which the bookstore operates. This is the case with BookCourt, located in the Cobble Hill neighborhood of Brooklyn. The owners of BookCourt, Henry Zook and Mary Gannett, bought the building, 163 Court Street, back in 1984 for a mere $160,000. By buying the building outright, Zook and Gannett have avoided the fate of some of their fellow booksellers, who are struggling with or have fallen victim to skyrocketing rents.

2. Sells the space for a commercial shoot, as powerHouse Arena occasionally does. powerHouse Arena is housed in a cavernous, 10,000-square-foot space that is in a riverfront neighborhood and onetime warehouse district in Brooklyn. Since the bookstore has so much space at its disposal, owner Daniel Power rents some of it out for photo and advertising shoots, making a pretty penny. In fact, just one major commercial shoot - say, for a big Internet provider - could cover the store's rent for an entire month.

3. Outlasts the nearby Barnes & Noble location. Operating on the quiet corner of West 10th Street and Waverly Place in Greenwich Village, Three Lives & Company noticed an uptick in business after the Barnes & Noble up the street closed. "Suddenly," owner Toby Cox told New York magazine, "people realized we were here. I never thought of Barnes & Noble as a competitor. I didn't think our customers overlapped. But after they closed, I realized they had been taking our customers after all."

For more tips for small bookstore survival, spotlighting three more independent bookstore success stories, check out the New York article "6 NYC Independent Bookstores That Are Thriving" at THIS LINK.

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