Do Indie Bookstores Need To Help Themselves?

do indies need to  help themselves


This post may be a bit controversial- especially with many bloggers showing indies major love. So, before you start sending me hate mail- let me tell you- I support indies. I LIKE Indies. So that hate mail- let’s just put it aside and follow this rule- keep it cute or put it on mute!

A True Story:

I live within a generous driving distance of 3 indie bookstores. Each has it’s own set of charms and fun things. All 3 try to have great book signings (which I go to!) and if I’m unable- they have a great system to order the book and have it personally autographed!

But… (there’s a but- did you ever doubt that?)

Sometime back in 2013, a big XYZ website, a place that I support asked some of the bloggers affiliated with them to mention to our local indies an interest in forming a partnership- basically, the indie would get some space on the big XYZ website and be mentioned on social media. The indie then had the opportunity to guest post on XYZ website.  It was even mentioned if said indies were willing- perhaps a shelf or a display could be set aside to feature some of the books that XYZ chose for their monthly book club (although this was not a requirement!)

Oh I was so happy to be hearing this news- some of the other bloggers had great luck taking this plan to their indie bookstores- and I was so hoping for equal success. In fact, I did not see anything but “win” all over this.


I emailed one of my local indies. I outlined the whole deal- mentioning that already they had several of the previous book club books on display and that at least 2 of future book club selections were displayed as well. I gave them all the information- hit send and waited for an email to come back. Well, days go by and I did not hear back- so no problem, people get busy, yada, yada, yada. I went to this particular indie the following week for a book signing and dropped off all the pertinent paperwork, email addresses, ways to contact (heck the only thing I did not provide was a carrier pigeon!)

Fast-forward a month or so later…. I’m back at this bookstore for another signing. I walk around through the bookstore, hoping I see some signs of a display (but not feeling confident as I did at one point.) When I didn’t, I started talking to one of the people that works there and I causally mentioned the packet of information I had dropped off and asked “if they were still considering the possibility of creating a display” and the guy told me, “Well to be honest- we are just trying to keep the doors open here. So no.”

I smiled and said “thanks for letting me know” and picked my books up for the signing. I thought about what he said that day, though. I thought about it for quite some time. I even talked to some of my book-loving friends about it. And now, I’m blogging about it.

Here’s my feelings:

Indies, unless you are in a really good location, unless you are getting the BIG authors, unless a lot of things- an Indie has to work at least twice as hard to make the sell. To get people to buy the books. Why? Part of it is price. Simply put- price is a major motivator. Now, sure, you’ll have people who won’t mind paying full price for a book- who would rather do that than support other places you can buy books. But for every person like that- there is probably 5 who just wants the book at a good price.

Am I saying the display featuring some popular women’s fiction books was going to solve their money problems? Absolutely not. BUT… could this indie have had an opportunity to help themselves- maybe get a leg up in dog eat dog world and missed out? I think so.

Because, while you need loyal supporters, while you need customers- you also need things that set yourself apart. A way to engage your customers- because you really have 1 chance to make an impression.


What do you think? Tell me in the comments or Traveling With T’s  Facebook page.


Happy Reading and Bookishly Yours,

T @ Traveling With T

T Traveling With T pic sign off


2 thoughts on “Do Indie Bookstores Need To Help Themselves?

  1. melissa says:

    I like books and book stores. I even shop online. I like bargains so I’m not sure if it would matter the type of book store or who the owner is, as long as they are friendly and polite. Barnes & Nobles offer tables of discounted books, 20% off new releases, as well as full price books. Half priced book stores of course are 50% off cover price as well as $1 books. Privately owned book stores will usually offer some sort of discount such as buy 3 and get one free or some sort of exchange. Just my opinion.

    • I shop at all types of bookstores. I try to support my indies as much as possible. I had hoped this indie would have wanted to participate in this program- because I do think it would have gotten them a bit more promotion. Oh well.

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