Independent Bookstores Are Growing in the Amazon Age

A blog about business and economics.
Sept. 24 2013 2:21 PM

Independent Bookstores Are Growing in the Amazon Age

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A Barnes & Noble bookstore in New York on Aug. 20, 2013

Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images

Over lunch I was reminiscing with a friend about the 1990s when bien pensant types were all complaining about Barnes & Noble and Borders putting independent bookstores out of business. Today Borders is gone, Barnes & Noble is ailing, and independent bookstores are ... growing again, as Leo Mirani and Nate Hofelder both explain.

Here's a snazzy Quartz chart:

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I predicted this would happen back in January. Amazon and e-books do what chain bookstores do, but do it far better than chain bookstores ever could. But even in the chains' heyday, there was a segment of shopper who yearned for the more personal experience offered by artisanal book retailing. Now in a world where downloading a digital book is obviously the fastest and cheapest way to get a piece of reading material, independent bookstores are able to focus on the other ways in which they add value.

Matthew Yglesias is the executive editor of Vox and author of The Rent Is Too Damn High.

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