What DISTINGUISHES a community bookstore?? What could a movement to support community bookstores look like, and how can we support it?

Host:  Anne Stadler & Paul Wright



What does a “movement” mean?

Something comparable to the Free Speech Movement!?

Paul suggests: Could there be a national movement that supports local community bookstores.

Bookstores should be “civic” organizations, a place where people’s voices can be heard, a central source for community information. A center for democracy. Enriching lives.

ABA advocates for community bookstores but there could be advocacy at other levels.

To start: What IS a community Bookstore?

Many manifestations: a bookstore with a community supported bookstore (CSB) program, a co-op or some other sort of “membership”, a bookstore hub, a gathering spot/community center, a place for local events with local authors. 

Paul says a “community bookstore” is something that the community wants, needs and supports. An integral part of the local community. Sausalito Books by the Bay — has a CSB program, hosts community events that involve books but community issues, showcases local authors, partners with local libraries and organizations.

Keplers — side by side business– for profit, but a non-profit foundation as well. ‘membership store”.

With no local library (Rhode Island bookstore) they have done pop-ups and are considering a co-op model.

Resources for bookstores (aka CSA) a program for book-buying, supporting literacy — maybe even state funded.

Bookstores should be given a better margin with publishers; but maybe government should subsidize bookstores? European models exist for this. 

Robert/Third Place Books — raised $150k via Books for Students program (getting the right books to the right students) Great community service, increases volume, but requires more employees, more cost.

Partnering with other local organizations can help support local bookstores.

Community vs. independent bookstore? Consensus was that “community” is stronger.

Paul referenced Carnegie and his library/community movement/urged people to “Adopt” the library. How could we get our communities to “adopt” our bookstores in a similar fashion?

Go Fund me campaigns were effective at helping during the pandemic.

Owning physical space indicates vested interest in community. Can help with a sustainable business model. (No big rent increases!) Real Estate is a huge issue. 

There are a lot of models to be explored to help support bookstores….

How to be economically viable and ALSO community oriented — new business model needed to address this.

National perspective of coming together…even lottery to buy property for community bookstores.

Templates for success essential! A national resource pool/center (for money as well as professional support) might help support community bookstores. 

Look at what small galleries and museums have done; look at the Public Broadcasting model;

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