Bookstores and Libraries in the United States
[…] Despite what it may appear to some, libraries and bookstores are not in competition with each other. It’s not uncommon to hear people ask how it’s possible to sell books when you live near a place that lets you borrow them for free. Applying market logic it’s normal to consider libraries fierce competitors to bookstores, irreconcilable enemies.
Nothing could be further from the truth. Progressively bookstores and libraries are uniting in their efforts to travel the course together. Borrowing a phrase from politics: there is more that unites them, than separates them and a good relationship between them is a win for everyone, commerce, institutions and communities.
“We’re not competitors. We supplement each other,” as per Skylight Books owner, Kerry Slattery, describing her store’s relationship with the local branch of the Los Angeles library Public Library. In many instances entrepreneurs looking to launch a book store will first seek to meet with those responsible for local libraries in order to make themselves known and look for avenues of mutual collaboration. In any business it is important to understand the community that one will serve, and no one knows a community better than the local library. Their data can be gold for a bookseller; the best way to know what books to offer. It doesn’t make sense to carry three guidebooks to the Alaskan countryside if you have a bookstore in Miami; nor is it a good idea to stock vegan cook books in a community that lives on fishing and livestock. […]
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