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Independent Bookstores thriving nationwide despite years of setbacks

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Small independent bookstores are a great way to check out books you haven’t heard about or even discover a new author. A lot of people seem to agree because national numbers show sales across indie bookstores have been growing a lot over the last decade.

With thousands of titles to choose from, Black Sheep Books on Old St. Augustine Road in Mandarin is a literary goldmine. But when you're not expecting it, you may find something a little unique. For instance, an antique iron or an action figure. Charles Hack is the owner.

"We’ve got strange stuff up on the shelves and just trying to make it into an interesting and eclectic sort of feel," Hack said. "I want people to know that they come and find what they’re looking for, but also maybe stumble across something they weren’t thinking about."

Hack believes a fun, personal vibe is what makes independent book stores so appealing.

Stats from the American Booksellers Association show indie book shops have been thriving despite major setbacks in previous decades.

The ABA says bookstore membership has gown for the 10th year in a row. It also says overall, book sales across indie bookstores for 2017 increased 2.6% over 2016. It also shows sales in 2018 increased nearly 5% over 2017.

Hack says his business took a hit when e-books became all the rage, but things have settled out. He thinks one contributing factor is simple: people like the feel of an old-fashioned hard or paperback.

"It’s a much more enjoyable experience than doing this all the time (motions scrolling down)," Hack said. "So there’s always going to be that tactile portion of book reading that will never go away.”

With Small Business Saturday this week, sales are going on as usual, but with a little bonus.

“We are doing a 20% off sale for all the used items in the store," Hack said. "Just the whole thing, straight off."

The American Booksellers Association says with more than 2,500 indie bookstores in operation, millions will have a chance to save on their favorite authors and titles.


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