Modern bookselling has a storied past. Some of the earliest booksellers - including personalities like Benjamin Franklin - were printers. As such, the historical role of bookseller was as a source of ideas and fomenter of progress.
The privilege of the independent bookstore is no less revolutionary in today’s world. You’re more than just a showroom for eventual online purchases. Independent bookstores draw readers into the local community.
Are you making the most of your independent bookstore? Here are three ways you can offer more value to your readers.
Create an Experience Around Your Store
One of the most effective forms of marketing is the investment in memorable experiences for your customers. Owning stuff is fine, but that is something available to anyone. An experience, on the other hand, is a unique opportunity to connect with like-minded others and define yourself.
A group of independent bookstores in the Piedmont area of North Carolina took this advice to heart. These independent bookstore owners - because they live in the community - understand that they offer the area a particularly local perspective, not easily replicated by the chain stores.
Inspired by a similar outreach in another region, they created an event where the patrons of local independent bookstores could earn social media mentions and “passport stamps” for visiting multiple bookstores. Multiple stamps gain participants bragging rights, other prizes, and eligibility for a drawing.
As a result, even more than increasing foot traffic in their stores, they offered their readers a memory that could lead to lifelong patronage of these and other independent bookstores.
Put Your Community First
Two annual Independent Bookstore Days held across the country have cemented the idea that bookshops are centers of the community. Centers that local residents are interested in investing in, to the tune of a 70 percent increase in sales on average.
After several years of the well-documented decline of bookstores, including the shuttering of high-profile big box retailers, this independent bookstore segment is rebounding. Why?
Independent bookstores are a hub of cultural activity that connect members of the community. The most successful examples are capitalizing on this idea by hosting community events, book fairs, signings, and kids’ programs. They pride themselves on knowing their neighborhoods and locals. They take advantage of print-on-demand programs to satisfy their readers and technology that allows their patrons to buy e-books while still supporting their local bookstore.
Bring Together Readers and Writers
Another way that independent bookstores are fulfilling their role of community connector is by bringing together readers and writers.
Some bookstores are taking this concept literally with independent bookstores growing as a retail arm of independent publishers. Others are using their storefront to create a literary hub by hosting a writers residency, writers conference, writing contests, readings, workshops, and other events.
When your readers and shoppers look to you, it’s important that you are able to respond with what they need. Ingram offers a wealth of resources specific to retailers.
Find out how to capture every opportunity that comes your way here!