Faced with stiff competition and tight credit, Borders corporation has announced total liquidation. Hundreds of towns will lose their Borders bookstores, even though many individual locations were profitable. The sick branches have destroyed the entire tree.

By contrast, exactly the opposite was occurring when in similarly dire competitive circumstances, in the mid-1990s, two thirds of America’s 5,100 independent bookstores closed and indies’ national tradebook market share fell from 35% to 10%. Because failing indie bookstores were not bound financially to successful ones, the American Booksellers Association was able to shed all those members while 1,500 indie bookstores stayed in business. For the next ten years ABA members continued to sell about $1 billion worth of tradebooks every year, jointly controlling about 10% of the tradebook market. For every store we lost in those years, a new one launched.

This is the strength of the small business paradigm: because American Booksellers Association members were never a big business Goliath but rather a team of Davids, when some fell, the survivors could fight on.

Our team’s goal is to act locally as catalysts to build communities by bringing readers and books together, and our economic insulation from one another permits us to jointly fulfill that mission no matter the competitive headwinds from centralized bureaucracies ruling scattered showrooms or Big Brother-like electronic mail-order catalogs incessantly nagging at our email inboxes.

After years refining our techniques, we survivalist indies are in recruiting mode. Join us! What other career offers such a bracing, socially engaged life journey? Independent bookselling can be the profession of choice for a questing generation of innovative freethinkers.

Who really wants to be penned inside Borders?


2 Responses to Return of the Indies

  1. [...] There are plenty of more informed responses on the internet if you want to read more, such as Andrew Laties’ post here and Josie Leavitt’s here. I am by no means a expert on business matters, so what follows are [...]

  2. kimber says:

    Hi Andrew!
    I would love to have you write a column for ForeWord Reviews! We review good books, independently published, for our librarian and bookseller readership. Please email me if you’re interested. Thank you.

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