Lessons from other Industries: Bookselling in the age of Amazon

Few industries have seen the Internet change their business model as have bookstores.

With rise of ebooks and online superstore Amazon, the headlines have been filled with the struggles and store closings of Barnes & Noble and the now-bankrupt and shuttered Borders. But an interesting thing has happened on the supposed path to irrelevancy for bookstores.

Independent booksellers are staking their claim to success by evolving their businesses. Just like the smartest boat dealers, they are becoming more than a place to buy a product. They are hosting events and selling ancillary products and services.  One great example of this phenomenon is Anderson’s Bookshop a Naperville, Ill., store that was the 2011 Publishers Weekly Bookstore of the Year. Almost every week, you’ll find an author signing or other event going on at the store. The store is well known for its service and knowledgeable employees. The management team has done a great job of making themselves go-to experts in the field. Owner Becky Anderson even hosts a television show on the local TV station.

Add in other products from literary-themed T-shirts to puzzles and toys and the store has built an offering that goes beyond books. Finally, the Anderson’s crew is masterful at promoting what’s going on at the store in the local media to draw in a diverse audience.

It’s simple, but these are all takeaways that are applicable to boat dealers:

  • Host events
  • Be a part of the community
  • Promote your expertise
  • Diversify in creative ways


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