How Poetry Readers Can Help Indie Bookstores

By Dianna Dilworth Comment

How can indie bookstores can survive Amazon’s dominance? In an article by poet and publisher of Black Ocean Janaka Stucky published at Poetry Foundation, the publisher suggested they think about poetry readers: “People who read poetry are the unsung customer base for independent bookstores.”

Instead of competing, Stucky recommends that indie book stores take advantage of their status as local businesses within their communities: “the service a bookstore provides isn’t just book-selling; it’s being the cultural center that book lovers need in their communities. Unless bookstores can not only acknowledge their role as beacons of culture, but really embrace that role and market themselves as such—as long as they try in vain to compete with one of the world’s largest retailers at its own game—they will slowly lose ground as they steadily morph into increasingly bizarre hybrids of book-music stores, bookstore-cafes, and bookstore–tapas restaurants.”

Stucky’s piece is a response to an op-ed in The New York Times that condemns Amazon for paying customers $5 not to shop in stores and a piece in Slate that justified the practice.