American Booksellers Association
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A Plethora of New Independent Bookstores Open in 2006
Independent Bookselling Continues to Attract Committed Entrepreneurs
Tarrytown, NY. January 8, 2007. American Booksellers Association recently reported that 97 ABA member bookstores opened for business in 2006. The 2006 new store openings follow the 2005 total of more than 90 new store openings. New owners report a number of reasons for launching their stores, yet they share at least two traits: a love of reading and a desire to make a difference.
The news counters the many end-of-year "independent bookstore closing" reports in the media. Avin Mark Domnitz, ABA CEO noted, "The number of new stores -- and the intelligence and professionalism of these new owners -- clearly demonstrates that independent bookselling is very much alive and well in the 21st century. Happily, the reports of the decline of independents have, again, been exaggerated."
The locations of the new independent bookstores range from Ben Lomond, California, to Ludlow, Vermont, with names like A Good Book, or Lorelei Books, or Monkey See Monkey Read. New bookstore owners site varying paths to bookstore ownership.
The 5,000-square-foot Rock Point Books in Chattanooga, Tennessee, which is owned by author David Magee and Albert Waterhouse opened in November 2006. Magee told ABA that he's been a successful writer since 2002 but wanted to open a bookstore "because I love books and independent bookstores," adding, "I am a community guy, and live in the Chattanooga community." Chattanooga has a population of about 155,000. "There is a great revitalization of the infrastructure of the riverfront, and infrastructure needs culture.... Nothing does that like a broad-minded bookstore."
Prior to opening Nightbird Books in Fayetteville, Arkansas, home of the University of Arkansas, Lisa Sharp had been the bookkeeper of her husband's architectural firm. "Part of why I was a bookkeeper was the company was tenuously profitable," she said. "When they started doing better, they could afford to hire a bookkeeper. And my kids were older and I wanted to do something. I love books, love talking about books, love hearing about books, so I looked into opening a bookstore."
Donna Paz of Paz & Associates, which organizes the Prospective Booksellers Schools with ABA each year, was not surprised at the number of store openings in 2006. "As long as we see baby boomers aging and retiring early, I think we're going to see independent bookstores opening," Paz said. "Obviously, people are still reading, and we're seeing more people coming [into bookselling] through a business path. They retire early and then do what they always dreamed about."
Founded in 1900, the American Booksellers Association is a not-for-profit trade organization devoted to meeting the needs of its core members—independently owned bookstores with storefront locations—through education, information dissemination, business products and services, and advocacy. ABA exists to protect and promote the interests of retail book businesses, as well as to protect the First Amendment rights of every American, and it actively supports free speech, literacy, and programs that encourage reading. A board of nine booksellers, representing thousands of members, governs the Association. ABA is headquartered in Tarrytown, New York.