Independent Bookstores Making Profit Beyond the Bookshelves

booksA little over a year ago, Google held an event called, “The Book on Google: Is the Future of Publishing in the Cloud?” Google’s manager for strategic-partner development, Chris Palma, announced that the search engine giant would be entering the e-book arena along with other companies such as Apple, Amazon and Barnes & Noble. And while consumers were without bindings and paper to fill their shelves, independent bookstores were without consumers, their cash and in turn, without a profit. With a sluggish economy and the Green movement pitted against bookstores, a new innovative business plan needed to be put into place, like charging admission for author meet and greets.

Taking Back Main Street and Turning a Profit

Bookstores, revered more recently as libraries, are losing profits as “shoppers” browse and research books on their shelves, rather than shopping and purchasing the books to take home. And while sale numbers may have indicated that the population had become less interested in reading, the continuing attendance at author meet and greets and book readings proved otherwise. According to Sarah McNally, the owner of McNally Jackson Books in the SoHo neighborhood of Manhattan, its all about adaptation she tells The New York Times, explaining, “The entire independent bookstore model is based on selling books, but that model is changing because so many book sales are going online.”

Some of the new profitable business models independent bookstores are following today include: cash for admittance or book purchase for admittance. As Heather Gain, the marketing manger of the Harvard Book Store in Cambridge, MA, simply states, “We’re a business. We’re not just an Amazon showroom.” While book sales use to make up for the price of each event, bookstore owners are now paying out of pocket, leaving them with little choice in charging admission. Those authors, now the main attraction with a fee, are unsure of the new business model, however, believing they will loose a potential audience. Novelist Ann Patchet tells The New York Times, “I wouldn’t want the people who have no idea who I am and have nothing else to do on a Wednesday night shut out. Those are your readers.”

To read more about independent bookstores’ plans to charge event admission, click HERE.