|Weekly News Digest
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Publishers Weekly Reports on the Indie Bookstore Boom
Judith Rosen writes the following in “Another Pandemic Surprise: A Mini Indie Bookstore Boom” for Publishers Weekly:
Though the pandemic caused financial hardship for many independent bookstores, particularly those in cities and states that forced retailers to close their doors for months, it has also paved the way for a mini-boom of bookstore openings. ‘I’ve gotten a lot of, “Why would you open during a pandemic? That’s brave,” ’ said Kari Ferguson, who opened an online children’s bookstore, Oh Hello Again, in June 2020, followed by a general bookstore of the same name in the Capitol Hill section of Seattle in December. ‘But really, the pandemic allowed me to open a physical location, because rent prices dropped on retail spaces due to store closings. The community has been so supportive. I think people are enthralled with the novelty of a business opening rather than shutting down during Covid.’ …
Other new bookstore owners have been able to follow through, in part, because they got rent breaks from their landlords. Jennifer Caspar, founder of Village Well Books and Coffee in Culver City, Calif., signed a lease in February 2020, just ahead of pandemic shutdowns. She didn’t start paying rent on her 3,000-sq.-ft. space until November; the official store opening was on Jan. 2, 2021. …
While acknowledging that the disruption of Covid has been challenging and that some bookstores are still struggling, Allison Hill, CEO of the American Booksellers Association, noted that ‘there’s also been growth in ABA membership.’ She also pointed to ‘exciting trends in new stores—more diversity, location-independent formats, smaller sizes with room for growth—and an increased interest in nonprofit and co-op models.’
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