a look at how six great independent bookstores make it in the big
city, which is actually a question I have always wanted
answered. The Park Slope Community Bookstore has done it in part by
catering to Park Slope’s child-related needs, which seems obvious;
BookCourt did it by buying their building and, eventually, the
building next door. PowerHouse Arena, as anyone who goes to things
knows, does it by tirelessly having things to go to (and lots and
lots of space rental). The lovely Greenlight books did it through
canny investment and fundraising and by being a bookstore where a
bookstore was needed. And Sarah McNally of McNally Jackson does it
by selling a crapload of books:
She attributes more than $4 million in sales last year to an obvious factor: volume. “Instead of getting rid of shelf for display,” she says, “we’ve gotten rid of display space for shelf space.” So 65,000 books have been squeezed into 7,000 square feet (along with a café), while creative organizing keeps them compulsively browsable.
My only complaint about these bookstores is that, with the exception of BookCourt’s cat (pictured!), there aren’t enough cats in them.