bookstores aren’t dead yet – an example of the artisinal organization


A few years ago, people predicted the end of bookstores. Major chains were closing – Borders, Waldenbooks, and many more. Amazon ruled the world. But a funny thing happened. The independent bookstore business refused to die. Recently, it seems to be expanding.

The chart about is taken from a business data website called Statista and it indicates that the independent bookstore is carving out a niche. How can this happen? My guess is that bookstores are now “artisinal organizations” – entities that create value through service, curating products, and providing an “experience.”

This is made possible by the technology of the book itself. A paper book, with pictures and an attractive cover, is still a highly desirable product. At its best, the physical book draws you into its world in a way that different than the computer screen. And there is the social aspect of reading, of hanging out with other book worms.

The physical independent book store – or any other artisinal organization  for that matter – will not bounce back and replace it’s high tech or mass produced counterpart. But in a large economy, it is now possible for subcultures to pop up around niche businesses that provide an “artisinal” version of a product, much as it has happened in food. And that’s a good thing.

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Written by fabiorojas

March 17, 2017 at 12:09 pm

Posted in books, fabio, uncategorized

4 Responses

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  1. Interesting. I also wonder if some of this is just filling in the gaps left behind by Borders’ closure. That is, Borders closed both profitable and unprofitable stores when it went bankrupt. Independent stores were able to fill in some of those gaps. Anecdata: Literati in Ann Arbor opened a couple years after both the flagship Borders store and the other main independent bookstore closed, which had left downtown A2 with no new bookstore.

    Liked by 1 person

    Dan Hirschman

    March 17, 2017 at 4:38 pm

  2. A student of mine, Jerome Hendricks, wrote an amazing dissertation about exactly this phenomenon among retail record stores. He found that despite contraction and radical reconfiguration in the overall music industry, small, independent record stores managed to thrive by taking advantage of key market niches, organizing as an artisanal movement, and reconfiguring themselves as places selling authentic experiences rather than material products.

    Liked by 1 person


    March 19, 2017 at 3:04 am

  3. […] via bookstores aren’t dead yet – an example of the artisinal organization — […]


  4. […] couple weeks ago, Fabio had a post about the recent rise in brick-and-mortar independent bookstores, suggesting that perhaps they have […]


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