Indie Bookstores of New York City

A blog about Independent Bookstores in NYC and how they are surviving in the digital age

Author: mwillemin (Page 2 of 3)

Desert Island

Name: Desert Island

Location: 540 Metropolitan Ave, Brooklyn, NY 11211

Website: http://desertislandcomics.tumblr.com

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Description: Desert Island is a small, one-room comic book store. The large window houses a display, not of books, but of a papier-mâché dragon swooping down on little human figurines below. The interior of the store presents a similar design theme. Comic books are tightly packed on shelves, and a large mobile, chandelier of shiny, blue arrows illuminated by a bare light bulb hangs in the middle of the room. The back wall is covered in orangey, reddish paisley wallpaper that contains beige and black print designs of a place that appears to be somewhere in India. Various other abstract posters also cover the walls. The wooden floors are a stunning shade of chartreuse and some bookshelves sport a coat of electric blue paint. Jazz plays softly in the background completing the seemly random yet somehow cohesive bookstore atmosphere.

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What I like: This bookstore offers a wide variety of comics and graphic novels. They sell everything from mainstream Marvel and DC comics to independently published comics, zines, posters and prints. They also sell several vintage editions of Mad Magazine. Like a couple of the other stores visited so far, Desert Island supports local artists, and the front of the store contains two racks dedicated to independent works created by those artists.IMG_5624 In addition, the quirky store decorations make browsing an exciting experience because every time you look up from a book or from the shelves, you spot something new on the walls. The shop seems busy despite its small size, and the staff member running the checkout counter is friendly and knowledgeable. Definitely would recommend a trip out here for all of your comic book needs.

How they are combating the pressures of the digital age: In addition to running a bookstore, Desert Island also acts as a publisher. They produce their own series called Smoke Signal, which they call “a quarterly tabloid comics anthology,” that showcases work from both established and up-and-coming independent artists. The comic is available for purchase on their web store, or can be picked up for free at their physical location in Brooklyn. The store sells ad space in these comics and their upcoming issue will be “hand distributed in the NYC subway system,” making this an enticing place for advertisements since it will receive a lot of views.IMG_5628 In addition, Desert Island is responsible for organizing the annual Comic Arts Brooklyn Festival, which presents events such as movie screenings, artist talks, book signings, and exhibitions. One interesting element of their digital presence is that their only website is a Tumblr account. They do have social media pages, and though they seem to post the same content on each page, they have a decent following and are able to use their platforms to promote artists and engage their fans. Finally, the store sells other items including patches and Desert Island themed items such as t-shirts, wrapping paper, and coasters.

 

Quoted information from:

 http://desertislandbrooklyn.com/smokesignal.html

http://desertislandbrooklyn.com/advertise.html

Greenlight Bookstore

Name: Greenlight Bookstore

Location: 686 Fulton Street, Brooklyn, NY 11217

Website: http://www.greenlightbookstore.com

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Description: Walking into Greenlight Bookstore is like walking back into the 1920’s. The storefront windows are outlined with a rich green trim, which extends over the top and creates arcs in the frosted glass panels above. The inside of the store is spacious, and despite the large display tables dotting the floor, there is still plenty of room to browse. IMG_6765Books are tightly packed on shelves, and some have been stacked sideways to create more room. This arrangement creates a seamless, eye-catching display of colors and shapes to draw a reader’s attention. The center bookshelf maintains the 1920’s feel with large, white support structures that begin to arc over the narrow passageways leading towards the back of the store. The further back you travel, the more there is to discover. The store itself almost feels endless, until you loop around and find yourself back in the main section.

What I Like: The atmosphere of this bookshop is amazing. In part, the unique structure and layout of the store contributes to this atmosphere, but the atmosphere is also enhanced by just how quiet the store is. Despite being filled with people, the store did not feel crowded, and there was very little chatter. The quietness in combination with the seamless flow off books and seemingly section-less shelves creates a serene browsing environment in which it is easy to loose track of time.IMG_6769 The store also sells a great deal of New York City and New York State based books and items all laid out on the inside of one of the store windows. Next to that, is a small corner filled with fliers and local advertisements, demonstrating Greenlight Bookstore’s interest in the community. In addition to supporting the local community, Greenlight Bookstore also supports up and coming writers by showcasing and selling a selection of works that have been independently published.

How they are combatting the pressures of the digital age: Greenlight Bookstore is combating the pressures of the digital age through a mix of different methods.  Perhaps the most effective method is through the various community partnerships they have formed. On the home page of their website is an option to “Find Your School,” which leads the viewer to a page that shows all of the local schools Greenlight Bookstore has partnered with in the past as well as the events they have co-hosted.

Greenlight bookstore also sells a variety of notebooks and store-related merchandise.

Greenlight Bookstore also sells a variety of notebooks and store-related merchandise.

They also have a strong partnership with the Brooklyn Academy of Music (BAM) and run a kiosk in two locations during BAM events. BAM members also receive a discount on BAM-related merchandise purchased through Greenlight Bookstore. In addition to these partnerships, Greenlight Bookstore has several book groups and a paid subscription service called “The First Editions Club” in which subscribers receive a recently published book each month. Another interesting feature of Greenlight Bookstore’s website is the link to their podcast and their Tumblr page. Their podcast covers material such as author discussions, book reviews, and current releases. Their Tumblr page is a blog that covers material such as progress updates on the renovations of their soon-to-open second location, general event updates, and user generated content such as readers who submitted photos of their bookshelves.

Idlewild

Name: IdlewildIMG_6531

Location: 170 7th Ave South, New York, NY and 249 Warren Street, Brooklyn, NY

Website: http://idlewildbooks.com

Description: Idlewild’s new location in the West Village is unique. The small store on the corner has one long, curved wall lined with books and windows. Several hip-height bookshelves and one larger display table are placed throughout the store. The main room contains travel books for any destination you might want to go, and offers so many different styles of guides that you will have no problems finding exactly what you are looking for. The store also has two small back rooms – each outfitted with long, wooden tables, wooden chairs, blackboards, and an oriental rug. On the blackboards, Spanish and French sentences are neatly written in colorful, chalky cursive. Though they are still moving into to this new location, they remain open and I have no doubt that when the transformation is complete, Idlewild’s already pleasant atmosphere will gain an even greater level of charm.IMG_6525

What I like: Aside from their huge selection of books, one of my favorite aspects of this bookstore is the design. I love the curving wall, as it not only creates plenty of space to browse, but it also provides a unique structure that I haven’t seen in any other bookstore I have visited so far. Even though the interior of the main room is relatively modern, the shape of the curved wall is reminiscent of the wall of a castle tower or a rotunda in an old home, which seems fitting for the travel-centered focus of this store. In contrast, the classrooms in the back have a rustic and old-fashioned feel to them, which provides a cozy learning space that is suitable for all ages. Additionally, though Idlewild is a travel bookstore, and they predominantly sell travel guides and maps, they also sell a selection of other books including fiction and nonfiction books that are either in translation or set in another country, as well as cookbooks from places like India, Scandinavia, and Peru . Their Brooklyn location also sells a small selection of books in other languages. IMG_6526

How they are combating the pressures of the digital age: This bookstore has one of the best websites that I have encountered so far. The home page is colorful, visually stimulating, and the websites design is consistent with some of the promotional materials and colored chalky writing present in the physical store. Idlewild’s website also shows the intention of opening a webshop so that customers can browse remotely, however this feature does not yet seem to be up and running. Upon arriving at the home page, the website generates a newsletter popup, which alerts the visitor to the newsletter’s existence. Even if customers do not sign up for the newsletter right away, the site also provides an option to subscribe in the top left corner of each page. IMG_6522Another unique feature that contributes to Ildewild’s success is the abundance of language classes they offer in French, German, Italian, and Spanish. Classes are taught by native speakers and range in level of difficulty. Idlewild offers skill building for everyone from complete newcomers to those looking to practice their conversation and discussion skills.

The Bookstore as a Sacred Space

I recently read an article entitled, “A Thousand Hands Will Grasp You with Warm Desire: On the Persistence of Physical Books” written by Alix Christie. In this article Christie addresses the question of why physical books are so important to humans. She discusses the idea that, even in the age of the e-book, people are still drawn to physical books and publishers are beginning to engage in creating volumes that are aesthetically pleasing, visually stimulating, and therefore worth printing. She also discusses the idea of the book as a physical space. She says:

a book we crack with our two hands creates an actual physical space for reverie that functions as an oasis outside daily life, a cocoon in space and time. An e-book can perform this function too, although I wonder if it takes us quite as far away. After all, these tactile qualities are part and parcel of the world the book creates. In the end, refusal of the e-book comes down to a refusal of sensory impoverishment. With all the senses we possess, why settle only for the eyes?

This statement got me thinking. If books create a physical space for us to engage in the act of reading and imagination because of its content and the sensory stimulation it provides, what about the bookstore itself? Bookstores are indeed physical spaces, and I’ve found that often the atmosphere of a bookstore can create a similar cocoon-like feeling.The often solitary acts of browsing through stacks of books, occasionally opening one, leafing through its pages, maybe reading a chapter or two, create a liminal experience set within the realm of the bookstore. How is it liminal and how does the bookstore contribute to this feeling of liminality? The act of perusing a book in a bookstore places the reader on the threshold of purchasing or not purchasing. At the same time the bookstore is a real world location that seemingly disappears while the customer is engaged in reading. The reader is physically present in the store, but mentally present in the book, thus they are caught between two places creating a sense of liminality. While it is true that this could be said of any place in which a person chooses to read, I think there is something special about the atmosphere created by a bookstore in particular. A bookstore is, in essence, a sacred space. In this context, I do not mean sacred with a religious connotation, but instead I am defining sacred as “reverently dedicated to some purpose, person, or object” (dictionary.com). In this instance, that object is the book and in some ways the reader as well. Bookstores sell books, they are dedicated to and reliant upon the customer who visits them, searching for the next good read. So what about online stores like Amazon? Despite being a digital store, Amazon still sells physical copies of books, and ordering a book off of Amazon is easier and often cheaper then purchasing from the actual store. However, similar to the argument Christie made in her article about the persistence of physical books, I would argue that physical bookstores persist for the same reason. They provide a dedicated space for sensory experiences that stimulate and engage people in ways that a digital presence cannot. The atmosphere provided by a bookshop enhances the browsing experience by creating sensory stimulation and allowing room for imagination. Visiting a bookstore intensifies the feelings of exploration and discovery in ways that are impossible to feel while sitting at home with a laptop.

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If you are interested in Alix Christie’s full article click here.

Gif Source: Giphy.com

Bluestockings

IMG_6484Name: Bluestockings

Location: 172 Allen Street, New York, NY 10002

Website: http://bluestockings.com

Description: Bluestockings is a one-room bookstore and café, which acts as an activist and community center that challenges “all systems of oppression.” The large storefront windows fill the room with natural light, and a line of small tables sit directly in front of them providing a perfect place to work, read, or sip coffee. Neon-colored paper signs guide customers from section to section, as they browse through a vast selection of books on topics such as “gender studies” or “intros to intersectional feminism.” Two large display tables fill the center of the room while smaller tables showcase books from their upcoming events. A large book-covered counter takes up one wall. From this counter, customers can choose from a selection of fair trade and vegan drinks and snacks to enjoy while they browse.

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What I Like: Because of this store’s focus on activism and “[empowering] all people to challenge oppression and participate in creating a society which is equitable, cooperative, and free,” this store had a truly fascinating and unique selection of books. I spent a great deal of time just flipping through some of the graphic novels they had on display, including “Chainmail Bikini: An Anthology of Women Gamers” and “What is a Witch.” This store is entirely run by volunteers and also supports writers who self-publish by selling their zines, magazines, and books. I also liked that this store works to create a “safe space” for discussion and education about difficult or controversial topics. The store’s duel focus on both activism and education creates a calm but supercharged atmosphere while browsing.IMG_6488

How they are combating the pressures of the digital age: Bluestockings has managed to combat pressures of the digital age by embracing the digital age. Their online store contains a large selection of the books they carry in the physical store with a note to shoppers that they are welcome to contact the store by email if they cannot find what they are looking for online. This maintains the connection between the digital and physical and demonstrates to customers that the staff at Bluestockings care about their digital customers too. Interestingly however, Bluestockings does not seem to have delved into the realm of e-books. In addition to selling books, zines, and magazines, the online store also sells a small selection of other products such as tote bags and feminist playing cards. They sell these items and a few others in-store as well. Their sale of free-trade coffee in the café acts an additional means of income besides the sale of books and other items. IMG_6489Bluestockings has also created a PDF document – available on their website – providing a selection of resources for customers and the community as a whole. The store also offers several free events and book clubs each month, which encourages customers to come to the store and purchase books. At these events, the store solicits donations from attendees, as well as from a donate link on their website. Finally, the store encourages their customers and supporters to promote the store through word of mouth, social media, and online reviews on platforms such  as Yelp.

 

Source for quoted material: http://bluestockings.com

The Drama Book Shop

Name: The Drama Book Shop, Inc.Drama Book Store Cropped

Location: 250 West 40th Street, New York, NY 10018

Website: http://www.dramabookshop.com

Description: When you walk into the Drama Book Shop, the storefront and entryway resemble more that of a prop store than a bookstore. The large storefront windows, do not display books, but instead showcase small scenes with poster advertisements for the show from which that scene is taken. Drama Book Store WindowThe dimly lit store is split into two sections separated by information desks and a low overhang covered in old props and posters. The front section contains theatre themed knickknacks, CDs, and instructional books on topics such as “Technical Design Solutions for Theater” and “The Backstage Handbook.” The second section, tucked in the back of the store, houses a wide selection of plays of every genre, period, and style. It is in this section of the store that you become aware of the odd linoleum-esq floor patterns in retro, 1970’s style colors, which somehow seem to match the wide assortment of brightly colored plays that line the shelves.

IMG_6477What I like: This little store has a lot to offer for both literature and drama enthusiasts alike. While the Drama Book Shop does target a niche market, they do a good job of having a little something for everyone else too. The wide variety of plays they have for sale means there is something that will appeal to all of their customers. They also provide resources for actors looking for agents and potential auditions, and they sell a decent selection of musical theater sheet music for singers. For those that don’t like to read plays, they have a small selection of performances on DVD as well as soundtracks from many different musicals. However, what I liked the most about this store was the sense of community that I felt walking through. The store provides ample seating for customers who just wish to come in and read, and every one of the chairs was occupied. There were also groups of friends who had met there to talk and work on projects. Additionally, all of the stores part-time staff work in the theater world meaning that they are knowledgeable about the subject matter and the store is helping to support the theater community in multiple ways.

One example of "they have something for everyone." Plus who can resist a good pun, especially when it combines Shakespeare and Star Wars.

One example of “they have something for everyone.” Plus who can resist a good pun, especially when it combines Shakespeare and Star Wars.

How they are combating the pressures of the digital age: Down in the basement of The Drama Book Shop is the Arthur Seelen Theater – a small blackbox theater named after one of the owners of the store. This theater houses about 60 people and is rented out for performances. However, there is no mention of the space on the bookstore’s website. The Drama Book Shop also recently started selling plays and e-books on their website, though in many ways, this store still seems largely untouched by the digital world. They do have two social media accounts Facebook and Twitter. Their Facebook page is largely used to promote store events and they are relatively active on Twitter by retweeting posts with mentions in them, though they do not post much original content on this platform. They also have a blogger page, but that has not been updated since 2013. It seems to me that the community fostered by this bookshop in the acting and theater world is one of the store’s most important elements and one of the reasons it doesn’t seem to have made a full transition to the digital world.

 

Note: In doing a bit of background research on the store, I came across this article, which discussed the fact that in 2011 the store was given the Tony Honors for Excellence in Theater. This article also provides some interesting background on the store’s history as well as some of the source material for this post. I highly recommend checking it out here!

Can Video Games Help Independent Bookstores Adapt to the Digital Age?

While searching for new ideas on bookstores and the digital world, I came across this article entitled, “Appetite for Risk: At the Intersection of Video Games and Literature.” In the article, author Maxwell Neely-Cohen addresses the idea that the world of video games and the world of literature are more similar than people would think, and that the two industries can benefit from shared ideas and influences. The author states that:

We should be making novels into video games, video games into novels. Publishers should collaborate with indie game developers, trading them a platform and content in exchange for labor and a new form of adaptation. Literary magazines and libraries should sponsor gamejams. The games industry should fully embrace the thousands of works of classic literature open to them in the public domain.”

As someone who enjoys both video games and books, the concept of these seemingly different forms of entertainment intermingling and helping each other is appealing. While I play all different types of video games, I am always more engaged in games that have strong, unique plots and well-written dialogue. While the game mechanics are important, I would rather play a game with sub-par controls and graphics as long as the plot is compelling. In terms of how literature could benefit from a partnership with the gaming industry, I think the author creates a strong argument. He says:

“The book publishing industry needs to carve out a more interesting, necessary space for itself in the digital world. All too frequently “technology” is considered one big amorphous blob, or worse, treated with indifference. Barely enhanced e-books, predictably executed apps, and promotional Twitter accounts for dead or Luddite authors seem to represent the extent of most publishers’ innovative efforts. Even in terms of pure content, contemporary fiction too often fails to fully evoke 21st-century life and contend with its burgeoning issues. We writers disproportionately focus on the past, or worse, replicate the form and structures of centuries gone without appetite for the risk, resistance, and failure innovation entails.”

So how does this article relate to bookstores in the digital age? Though the author is focused solely on the relationship between games and books, I think his suggestion that the book publishing industry doesn’t know how to handle the digital age is relevant to the struggle facing independent bookstores. The author suggests at the end of the article that applying gaming concepts and technology to literature could create a new, innovative form of art, however my question is if bookstores can also harness this innovation. Is there a way for independent bookstores to incorporate forms and functions of video games into their marketing and sales tactics? How could these tactics encourage consumers to purchase books? I’m not sure I have answers to these questions, but one thought would be perhaps making use of virtual reality gaming technology and enticing customers to come to in-store events where you could “live” in your favorite book. I would love to hear if anyone else has thoughts on this! 

For text of full article click here.

Albertine

Name: Albertine

Location: 972 Fifth Avenue, New York, NY 10075Screen Shot 2016-06-22 at 11.37.52 PM

Website: http://www.albertine.com

Description: This little bookstore is easy to miss walking down 5th avenue. Located inside the historic Payne Whitney Mansion – currently home to the Cultural Services of the French Embassy – the only indication of the store’s existence is a tiny sign posted out front. Upon entering the building, you are greeted by a beautiful marble lobby, and a curious security guard, who will inquire as to where you are headed and ask you to please step through the metal detector to the left. Once through, you are free to walk to the back of lobby where a small glass door labeled “Albertine” awaits.

The store itself is quiet, except for the low hum of voices. The difference here is that almost everyone is speaking French. French books line the shelves, and two tables loaded with French books and English translations stand in the middle of the room. Off to the right a small staircase leads up to the second floor, which houses graphic novels, travel books, children’s books, books about art, and a striking ceiling mural depicting the planets and zodiac signs moving around the sun.

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What I like: As someone who studied French in undergrad, I was so excited to discover this bookstore, and it did not disappoint. While it does cater to a specific audience, the store carries several English translations of French books. This aspect makes the store more accessible for customers who are interested in French literature and culture, but who do not speak French themselves. Albertine also sells French editions of literature from other countries, and I was particularly excited to find a French edition of Douglas Adams’ Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy. On the second floor, customers can also find a small glass–fronted case displaying rare French books, several of which are dated to the 18th century and earlier. Another enjoyable element of the store is that the floors are not crowded with tables selling

Works by Molière from 1781

Works by Molière from 1781

toys or other unrelated wares. Albertine simply sells books, which in combination with somewhat dim lighting, gives the store a library-esq feel.

How they are combating the pressures of the digital age: Albertine is run as “a project of the Cultural Services of the French Embassy.” Cultural Services provides support for Albertine’s events and literary discussions, and other support for the bookstore is provided through a small group of foundations, corporations, and individuals. Additionally, Albertine’s website contains an online store where customers can browse and purchase books in both French and English. Recently, Albertine also added EBooks to their online store in order to make French Literature more accessible. In the past, the store has even offered some of their events on Livestream so that customers can participate online. Finally, Albertine has a blog, and three different forms of social media pages – Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram – on which they post frequently.

The Strand

Name: The Strand

Location: 828 Broadway, Manhattan, NY 10003

Website: https://www.strandbooks.com/index.cfmScreen Shot 2016-06-22 at 11.38.28 PM

Description: The Strand is four floors of book-lover bliss. The main floor entrance, although jam-packed with Strand merchandise, houses a maze of shelves perfect for an intimate browsing experience reminiscent of exploring the stacks in a large library. Classical music plays on every floor, though it is often hard to hear above the chatter of the many customers and tourists that visit daily. A large staircase connects the basement to the second floor, but an elevator is required to get to the 3rd floor, which houses The Strand’s rare book collection. Stepping off the elevator is like stepping into a different store. The spacious room looks more like a museum than a bookshop, and the constant hum of human voices present on the lower levels disappears with the clattering of the elevator door. The classical music, which was so hard to hear on the other floors, creates a satisfying atmosphere for perusing the rare and antique texts. Leather bound books line the shelves and a glass case displaying particularly rare books covers one wall. Next to the counter stands a small vault, which houses some of The Strand’s most valuable books.

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What I like: It’s hard to find something not to like about The Strand however, I would say that the main floor does feel a bit commercial on entering and lacks the normal independent bookstore charm. That being said, I love the large selection of books available. The Strand seems to have anything you could ever want to read in any genre, including books in foreign languages, which has become one of my favorite sections to peruse. While the size of the store itself can be a bit overwhelming for browsing purposes, Screen Shot 2016-06-22 at 11.38.52 PM
the clearly labeled sections and picture coordinated maps located near each staircase help customers looking for specific genres, to navigate through the tightly packed shelves. However, The Strand’s large size and tall shelves do provide the perfect environment for those who simply want to wander and get lost among the books. The rare book room on the third floor is the standout feature of this bookstore. The entrance-by-elevator is a nice transition between the bustling floors below and the peaceful quiet of The Strand’s top floor. The rare book room also has chairs for those who wish to sit and enjoy the space and the books within, which is not a feature found on the other floors. IMG_6223With the exception of the checkout counter placed along the back wall of the room, exploring this portion of The Strand feels more like admiring a personal collection in a private library than shopping for books in a bookstore, but with the added perk that if you find something you like, you can purchase it and bring it home at the end of the day.

How they are combating the pressures of the digital age: The Strand is managing the digital age in a couple of interesting ways. Aside from the fact that they have a website and are fairly active on their six social media accounts (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Tumblr, YouTube and Pinterest), The Strand seems to have managed to blend books and digital culture in a way that appeals to a variety of audiences. In addition to selling Strand merchandise like t-shirts, tote bags, and mugs, the store sells a variety of other knick-knacks mostly located near the entrance, and at the top of each flight of stairs. In store, they also sell a small collection of vinyl, DVDs, and CDs.

The main floor is filled with Strand merchandise and other knick-knacks.

The main floor is filled with Strand merchandise and other knick-knacks.

Their website however is definitely tailored to the online shopper. Their main page has a menu bar that is broken down into different shopping categories and allows the reader to virtually browse The Strand’s wares, and purchase books and other items online, including a selection of texts from the rare book room. Another feature of the menu bar is the prominently placed “Staff Picks” link. I was happy to see this on the website, as this was not a feature in the physical store itself. There seemed to be a small staff recommendation shelf hidden on the second floor, but I was unable to find any others. Scroll further down on the main page and you will pass their events section, which consists of a variety of readings and book talks on every subject from Oscar Wilde to “Bad Advice from Bad Women: Riotous Readings from Wild Minds.” Scroll down further and you will find two sections, which are aimed at countering the digital age. The first section is “lower priced than E-books” and the second is called “the book was better.” These two sections are brilliant in terms of encouraging customers to purchase the physical book. The first section demonstrates that E-books are not always cheaper than their print counterparts, while the second section challenges the customers to read the book and decide for themselves whether or not it was better than the film. Finally, The Strand has a couple smaller locations including a Kiosk in Central Park (60th Street and 5th Avenue) and a temporary pop-up shop that just opened in Times Square (44th and Broadway) last Thursday. These small locations are perfect for attracting the attention of passers-by and hopefully encouraging them to purchase a book. The Times Square location will also host a selection of literary events.

What is Independent Bookstore Day?

April 30, 2016 marked the date of the second annual Independent Bookstore Day.

Independent Bookstore Day 2016 logo

Independent Bookstore Day 2016 logo

What is Independent Bookstore Day? According to TimeOut Magazine, during this event “participating [bookstores] will offer special perks to customers for one day only, including exclusive limited-edition books and art pieces for both kids and adults.” The purpose of this event? To attract attention to independent bookstores nationwide and promote their importance in local communities, while increasing their sales and helping them grow. This year, several of New York City’s independent bookstores participated in the event, including Book Culture, which hosted an in-store, literary-themed cocktail happy hour. Additionally, as part of the day’s festivities, 20 independent bookstores in Brooklyn joined forces in the first-ever Brooklyn Bookstore Crawl, where participating customers meandered from bookstore to bookstore with a chance of winning prizes and hopefully purchasing some exciting new reads along the way.

In doing a bit of exploring on the background of this event, I was surprised to find that the official Facebook page directly address the digital culture. The page states:

“In a world of tweets and algorithms and pageless digital downloads, bookstores are not a dying anachronism. They are living, breathing organisms that continue to grow and expand. In fact, there are more of them this year than there were last year. And they are at your service.”

I think that the idea of Independent Bookstore Day is a great way to promote local bookstores and attract attention from bibliophiles and non-book-lovers alike. However, for me personally, I found out about this event too late to actually participate in any of the activities. I think bookstores really have an opportunity to leverage social media and use the digital sphere to bring customers back into stores. According to an article on shelf-awareness.com, social media did contribute to expanding the reach of the event to 25,000 people on Facebook and hashtags such as #bookstoreday were trending. That being said, reaching 25,000 people on Facebook is a nice start, but there is definitely room to grow considering the size of the Facebook population. In this instance, the digital world, which often seems so contrary to the world of print, can actually help expand the communities that form around these stores and maybe even create some new book lovers in the process. I’ll end with turning the question to my readers. Any thoughts?

 

In case any one is interested, here are the links to the articles:

Also for those who may want to participate next year:

Image Source: https://www.facebook.com/BookstoreDay

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