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How Many Indie Bookstores Is Too Many?

The Open Book

The Open Book

Here at FWR, we’re all for indie bookstores. We love their support of authors and readings, their knowledge of the books they sell, and their ties to the community. But is there such a thing as too many indie bookstores?

In Westhampton Beach, NY, the answer might be yes. Newcomer indie bookstore Books & Books, which opened in July, is giving established indie bookstore The Open Book some competition, and not everyone is happy. The New York Times reports:

Books & Books

Books & Books

Terry Lucas, a librarian and the owner of the Open Book, which she founded in 1999, said Books & Books is on a course to put her already struggling store out of business.

The dueling bookstores have caused a bit of summer drama in this quiet, laid-back town on the south fork of Long Island, where much of the commercial activity happens on Main Street, a tidy stretch lined with restaurants, real estate offices and boutiques.

“You’d think the thing that was going to kill the little town bookstore was the e-reader,” said Glenn Dorskind, a high school English teacher and friend of Ms. Lucas’s. “But the thing that’s killing it is another bookstore.”

I’m lucky enough to live in Boston, which can support a number of independent bookstores. But in a smaller town, the market might be too small for more than one. Should indie bookstores try and spread themselves around? Or should this be a case of free-market survival-of-the-fittest?

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