By Kathie Felix
Many of us will be making some significant book buys this holiday season. Before the shopping begins, however, it might be a good idea to think about what our upcoming book purchase decisions could mean in the greater scheme of book retailing – and in terms of retailing in general.
The independent bookseller members of the American Booksellers Association (ABA) are poised to lend a hand in this debate. They are sponsoring a community-focused movement that brings together booksellers, readers, independent retailers, local business alliances and individuals “with a passionate belief that healthy local economies help communities thrive.”
The initiative, known as “IndieBound,” encourages support for local “indie” businesses that bring dollars, jobs, diversity, purchasing choices and taxes to local communities.
According to the IndieBound program, $100 spent locally keeps $68 in a community – while $100 spent at a national chain keeps only $43 close by. In addition, the project points out that independent businesses create jobs within a community, bring in tax money that is reinvested locally and donate to charities at more than twice the rate of national chains.
The IndieBound effort has its own website – www.indiebound.org – offering a variety of online tools, including a search engine that can be used to locate nearby bookstores and other independent retailers.
I tested the system with a search linked to my zip code and turned up a list of 30 booksellers within 100 miles. Before the search, I thought I knew all I needed to know about the local indies, particularly since SinC member and independent bookseller Mystery Loves Company is a frequent partner in local SinC events. After the search, I came away with the idea that a gift certificate from a shop that specialized in cookbooks might provide a cookbook-collecting friend with the perfect holiday gift – and would include the chance for a couple of shopping trips in a revitalized historic district. Even better, for the publishing industry, I wasn’t planning to buy this friend a book-related gift before using the IndieBound search engine.
The IndieBound program also offers an opportunity to link a website to specific books or independent bookstores. Participation as an IndieBound affiliate includes referral fees for sales; participants may link to book titles without joining the affiliate program (and without earning referral fees).
In addition, the website features links to an Indie Next List of great reads recommended by booksellers, an Indie Bestseller list, an Indie social networking community and Indie gear.
Now that you know how easy it is to find an independent bookseller anywhere in the country, you can help the indie effort by spreading the word about IndieBound.org.
And, today, let's talk indie. Tell us about your favorite independent bookstores.
Kathie Felix is a journalist and editor with a background in public relations. She has been on the front lines of bookselling as an in-store bookseller and a manager at the nation’s two largest bookselling chains – and has always considered a job at an indie to be the ultimate bookstore assignment. And, yes, she’s currently at work on a mystery or two of her own.