|Midtown Scholar Bookstore in Harrisburg, PA|
Nationally, while there are still indie bookstores shutting their doors, unable to hold on against the tough head winds, there are more stores opening than closing. Word, the popular Brooklyn indie, just opened a new branch at an old Burger King in Jersey City. Bookbug, in Kalamazoo, Mich., has doubled its size. Novelist Ann Patchett opened a store in Nashville. There are new openings in St. Louis, in Durham, N.C., and beyond.
“We just never bought into the sky-is-falling mentality,” Marlene England said. “You see the headlines, but you have to dig deep to see what’s really happening.”
The indie resurgence became publishing’s central narrative this year. Publishers Weekly, the industry’s trade bible, last month named Oren Teicher, chief executive of the American Booksellers Association, and his group’s board as its person of the year, an honor previously given to “Fifty Shades of Grey ” author E.L. James and Jeffrey P. Bezos, the founder of Amazon.com, the owner of The Washington Post and a villain to indie booksellers.
“We are a lot like Mark Twain: The rumors of our death are a little bit exaggerated,” Teicher said. “We have been counted out for a very long time.”
Twenty-five years ago, independents were supposed to vanish when Waldenbooks showed up in malls. They were supposed to vanish when Borders and Barnes & Noble came along with endless selection and comfy chairs. They were supposed to vanish when Costco started selling the latest Doris Kearns Goodwin . They were supposed to vanish when Amazon perfected low prices and fast shipments — not just for books but even for rowboats, meaning nobody would ever have to leave the house again to shop.