With the news about Borders, Angus, et al filing for bankruptcy, I've been mulling over a theory I heard recently (sorry, I don't recall where or when). The theory is that even though the book world is changing - and e-Books are a huge part of this - smaller independent stores will become more and more successful.
How and why, you may ask?
1. Personalization. Customer service is and ought to be a big part of book selling (and any other retail enterprise as well). Being greeted by name matters. Having a book store clerk suggest titles to you because he knows what your interests are matters.
2. Specialty items. In terms of books and selling them, small stores may be able to create niches of unique book related products, such as signed copies of books. Yes, you can get these on eBay or similar, but it's nice to be able to look at that autographed first edition and see what kind of shape it's in.
3. Indies have freedom. They do not have to stock and display all the titles that head office tells them to.
4. Customers do care. Not all customers are seduced by the convenience of the big box stores. Many customers go to the indies precisely because they are not part of a big corporate chain.
5. Community. A small local bookstore is likely to be involved in its neighbourhood, schools, churches, book clubs and so on. People like this.
Here are links to three articles that explore the topic of Indies vs. Chains:
The Winnipeg Free Press