A few years ago, the lingo “indie bookstore” would have gone right over my head.
As an avid reader, all I knew was I liked books and I’d get them anywhere I could – my local library or the nearest bookstore. But as an author, I realized that the business of writing was much more complicated and that my livelihood depended as much on who was distributing my books as my ability to produce an entertaining tale.
Independent bookstores are a struggling breed. In the age of Amazon, they may as well be a dying breed. They close down just as quickly as they pop up. When Karibu Books, my local indie, closed earlier this year I was shocked. This was a store with five locations throughout Maryland and Virginia. They seemed to be thriving. Certainly, the location nearest me kept a steady stream of customers whenever I was there.
However, they were down the block from a Barnes & Noble, which was twenty times its size with a never ending selection of books to Karibu’s very selective African American-related inventory.
The questions I’ve asked myself are – did Karibu do enough to distinguish itself from chain stores? Did they court readers and truly offer a level of service and product that a corporate chain cannot? In this age of business-first, were they so busy trying to survive that they failed to hone in on the one aspect of survivial that could have made the difference – interaction with authors and their customers?
I don’t know the answer to those questions. But our guests for the Brown Bookshelf summer series, Indie & The Author, might.
Jenn Laughren, a representative from Books Inc. and a catalyst behind its popular teen book club Not Your Mother’s Book Club. Books Inc. is the West’s oldest independent bookstore and has eleven locations.
Jaz Vincent, owner of RealEyes Bookstore, based in Charlotte, North Carolina.
They’ll be chatting Wednesday, July 23 from 9 p.m. – 10 p.m. eastern on the Brown Bookshelf forum about how indie bookstores can work with authors and their local community to ensure their survival.
If you’re interested in learning the best ways to support your local indie as an author, librarian, teacher or simply a lover of books, drop in ask a few questions, make a few suggestions or just listen in to what Jaz and Jenn have to say about literary life among the big whales of industry.