In a small town like Carleton Place, we’ve seen a few small, independent bookstores come and go. It’s sad, because wandering around a bookstore is usually such a lovely and zen-like experience. But the rise of online shopping and big box stores has made the bookstore–both big and small–a thing of the past. So, it was nice to hear that independent booksellers in New York City are trying to change that.
In a recent article in the New York Post, the shocking statistics tell the tale. In Queens, there are 2.3 million residents, but only one general interest bookstore. In the Bronx, the numbers are even more bleak–1.4 million residents, and no bookstores at all. Add to that New York City’s 8.5 million residents, with only 8 Barnes & Nobles, and fewer than 100 independent bookstores. Compare that to France’s entire population, which is 8 times that of New York, and they have 2500 bookstores. What does that say about this part of the world?
But indy booksellers are trying to do something about that, barging into communities and putting down roots to make the comparisons a little more even. Crowdfunding has helped, but the rents in NYC make it difficult to compete with the likes of Amazon, which has deeply discounted books. In places like Germany and France, bookstores are safeguarded with bans on deeply discounted books because they feel bookstores are an important part of their cities. Isn’t that great? It’s nice to see that a few warriors are trying to bring that idea back to North America as well.
Of course, it’s up to the public to support local businesses, including independent book sellers, by shopping in their stores. Without us, they will always go under, and one day, cease to exist at all. The extinction of bookstores is not something we should be looking toward.
Do you shop in local bookstores?