Over lunch I was reminiscing with a friend about the 1990s when bien pensant types were all complaining about Barnes & Noble and Borders putting independent bookstores out of business. Today Borders is gone, Barnes & Noble is ailing, and independent bookstores are … growing again, as Leo Mirani and Nate Hofelder both explain.
Here’s a snazzy Quartz chart:
I predicted this would happen back in January. Amazon and e-books do what chain bookstores do, but do it far better than chain bookstores ever could. But even in the chains’ heyday, there was a segment of shopper who yearned for the more personal experience offered by artisanal book retailing. Now in a world where downloading a digital book is obviously the fastest and cheapest way to get a piece of reading material, independent bookstores are able to focus on the other ways in which they add value.