The Local Value Add

The local independent bookstore is one retail channel severely impacted by the rise in chains and online book shopping. A book of the same title is the same book, right? Price then, is the measurement. Here’s a nice piece from titled: The Death of the Independent Bookstore.

Okay, so why are some independent bookstores doing just fine thank you?

Bookstores and, for that matter, any local business that understands they can’t compete with the chains, but that they have something much more valuable, can build a business that is not price sensitive because it’s value sensitive.

Thriving Indies of all ilks understand that community, belonging, knowledge, experience, transformation and service are what they sell. Any local business that finds that, packages that, and serves that up fresh and hot, can compete with the chains by not really viewing the chains as competition.

One long time legendary California bookstore, Kepler’s closed their doors due to competition but found that they enjoyed so much community support patrons were willing to pay a membership fee or sorts to make sure the doors stayed open. Their Literary Circle membership program reportedly generates several hundred thousand dollars in additional revenue.

One of the primary benefits of joining at any level, from $20-$2,500 annually, is: “The knowledge that you are enriching our community by supporting Kepler’s, your local, independent bookstore.”

People will pay to belong to something that provides a better experience. That reminds me a of great book by Joseph Pine II and James Gilmore titled: The Experience Economy.You can find it at your local independent bookseller by visiting, a service that provides online book searching and independent bookstore matching.

Rainy Day Books, located in a Kansas City suburb, hosts wildly successful author events. The price of admission is a copy of the book, sold at full retail instead of 40% off. Can you say standing room only?

So, what about the local hardware store, variety store, gift store, bakery, shoe store and restaurant. What do you really sell?


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