“A room without books is like a body without a soul.”
As co-author of Birthing the Elephant, a start-up guide for small businesses, I know firsthand just how innovative and intrepid entrepreneurs can be. That’s why it’s no surprise to me that nimble and resourceful independent bookstores are enjoying a renaissance. A few compelling numbers tell an inspiring story:
* Forty-three independent book stores opened in 2012.
* Annual sales for independent booksellers have increased
every year since 2010. Last year, sales surged by 8%.
* In partnership with Kobo, indie bookstores now offer
e-readers and millions of ebooks.
* Many indies provide in-store pickup so readers can order
online and pick up books at their convenience.
My own wonderful neighborhood haunt, Watchung Booksellers, does a fabulous job of reaching out and engaging both readers and the many writers in my town of Montclair. It has a full calendar of author readings and recently welcomed actress-author Julie Andrews. Its book groups are thriving. And several times a year, guided by Marina Cramer, it holds “Writing Matters,” a lively series hosted by debut novelist Jenny Milchman, which explores both the craft and business of writing. And in an inspired move, it recently launched a YA Advisory Panel — what a creative idea!
I love wandering around Watchung Booksellers to get a feeling for what’s new and exciting in the publishing world. It’s always fun to take a peek at the book recommendations from the store staff — they’re such enthusiastic readers!
In fact, Watchung’s owner, Margot Sage-El, gave me some great advice on my start-up guide. We were casting around for a title and one day, I asked Margot what she thought of some of the prime candidates. She liked Birthing the Elephant, because she said it was memorable and she could see women coming into the store and asking for it. Sold! And guess what, that wacky name has turned out to be a great branding tool.
I’ve also turned to Watchung Bookseller for advice on my YA novel. Carolyn Anbar, who handles children’s books, was kind enough to take me through the YA shelves and talk about series were popular and what girls enjoy. She was also very encouraging about my story, which gave me a huge boost. So, whatever project you’re working on, be sure to reach out for support and advice — and of course, books! — from your indie bookstore. It’s a goldmine. Write on!