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Independent Bookstore Day goes national May 2


By Ron Charles April 30

A brutal recession can change the economic landscape, but not always in the way people assumed it would. Six years ago, independent bookstores seemed destined to follow travel agents into the remainder bin. In 2009, the American Booksellers Association dipped down to 1,401 members. Borders shuttered hundreds of stores across the country, and Barnes & Noble started to teeter. If those big guys couldn’t survive, the conventional wisdom went, what chance did Mom & Pop Bookseller have?

It turns out, better than most of us expected. Despite the nation’s lackluster recovery, the number of indie bookstores has increased by more than a 25 percent since those dark days of 2009.

What accounts for this burst of literary entrepreneurialism?

Instead of heralding the industry’s doom, the death of Borders may have helped clear away competition. Other observers point to new interest in farmers markets and all things local. And maybe, like the prospect of hanging, the possibility of bankruptcy concentrated the minds of bookstore owners and inspired them to smarter, more creative merchandising.

However we got to this happy state, it’s worth celebrating, which is exactly the point of Independent Bookstore Day on Saturday, May 2. This new nationwide holiday stems from a program started last year by California indie bookstores. Now, more than 400 stores from Alaska to Maine are preparing for a full day of programs, entertainment and food to highlight their value.

But couldn’t you get everything online? No.

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