Alongside the alleged decline of the novel, literacy and of language itself, we’ve had to hear an awful lot about independent booksellers biting the dust, whether from competition with the big guns or just skyrocketing rents coupled with slow business. It’s this slow business part that’s always taken for granted—a borderline assumption is that no one is shopping at these places. Well then why, this gift-buying season, are small bookstores kicking Barnes & Noble’s butts?
Even without a runaway bestseller like that dumb Steve Jobs biography this season, The New York Times reports, the indie-geared Kobo e-reader and a wealth of smaller hits from established authors have boosted small bookstores’ sales by 10 and even 15 percent over the previous year. Many have embraced a digital strategy as well, meaning Amazon has less of a monopoly on customers who like to buy online.
Meanwhile old lumbering B&N isn’t getting the digital growth it wants, and it’s moaning about how it can’t possibly match numbers from the last holiday season, because that’s when Borders Books was going under. Yeah! Why don’t people understand that, man? Businesses can only thrive on the failure of rivals! What, you think a bunch of loyal customers are going to keep you afloat? Or save your whole enterprise during a hurricane? Wait a minute, that’s exactly what they did.