NEW YORK (AP) — Independent booksellers may never regain the stature of the pre-digital, pre-superstore era, but their presence continues to grow.
The American Booksellers Association, the independents' trade group, told The Associated Press on Tuesday that core membership has increased to 1,664, up from 1,632 last year and more than 200 higher since 2009. It's the fifth straight increase for an organization that was losing members for decades and seemed in danger of permanent shrinkage under the combined pressures of Amazon.com, Barnes & Noble Inc. and Borders, discount clubs and a weak economy.
Association CEO Oren Teicher said during a recent interview that independent stores continue to benefit from several factors, from the demise of Borders and slowing of Barnes & Noble to the leveling off of e-book sales and the popularity of the "Buy Local" movement.
"To be sure, owning and operating an indie bookstore remains full of challenges, and things in the book business continue to change incredibly quickly," Teicher said. "But while it may very well once have been true that in retail bigger was always better, I think our recent history proves otherwise."
The new numbers will be formally reported to association members later this week during BookExpo America, the publishing industry's annual national convention, being held in New York City. Also at BookExpo, best-selling author James Patterson will announce the latest round of grants in a $1 million campaign to help independents.
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