Indiegogo And Kickstarter Are Why Your Neighborhood Bookstore Hasn’t Been Crushed By Amazon

Amazon may be the world’s largest bookseller, but you won’t find a cup of hot coffee, live readings from your favorite authors, or in-store employees with PhD-caliber knowledge of literature on the online retailer’s website. For these amenities and others, many of us still turn to physical bookstores which often double as neighborhood staples.

A story in this Sunday’s New York Times profiles several brick-and-mortar bookstores that have recently turned to crowdfunding sites like Indiegogo or Kickstarter to fund expansions, relocations, and special event series, or to stave off total closures due to pending evictions.

In many cases, bookstores’ financial struggles stem from the combined effects of the recession and pressure from e-retailers, which are willing to lose money on books that they can make up by selling higher-margin goods like jewelry and furniture. But not all bookstores’ crowdfunding campaigns are prompted by a looming deadline, such as an eviction–Lexi Beach, a books enthusiast who noticed there were no general bookstores in the Western Queens neighborhood of New York, turned to Indiegogo to raise the $4,000 she needed to open a brand-new store, Astoria Bookshop. And Boneshaker Books in Minneapolis, which first raised $5,450 on Kickstarter to open shop three years ago, is still standing today.

The lingering question for bookstore owners is what to do when that crowdfunded money runs out. Fast Company‘s chief technology officer Matt Mankins completed an Indiegogo campaign that allowed him to keep his Cambridge bookstore Lorem Ipsum running for the time being. But he says crowdfunding is not a sustainable way to cover a business’s operating costs, and that bookstores may need to consider longer-term solutions if they want to stay in business in a world where cheap books are just a tap away.

[Image: Flickr user chicagogeek]CC