Manhattan Book Group. Scribe Media. Nissen Public Relations. Story Monsters.

These are the book publishing companies that authors would have loved to partner with in the past.

But guess who’s giving them a run for their money in the marketing arena? Independent bookstores.

Mainstream media would like you to believe that independent bookstores are dying and that they don’t stand a chance against traditional publishing companies.

In reality, they’re smoking traditional publishing companies when it comes to marketing strategies.

What advantages do independent bookstores have when it comes to marketing? Let’s find out.

Adaptability and Flexibility

Independent bookstores are more willing to adapt to the changing needs of their readers.

Readers are diverse. They’re interested in more than just traditional print. That’s why audiobooks and graphic novels have gained popularity.

Instead of meeting readers where they’re at, publishing companies isolate them. They don’t provide a range of reading options.

This is where independent bookstores shine. They’re more open to being flexible and providing different reading options for their community.

Even better, they’re open to learning how to market these different reading options to the community.

A key feature that independent bookstores offer their readers is an audio option. This is offered to readers who want to listen to an audiobook in addition to purchasing a physical copy.

Building Deeper Connections

Another strength that independent bookstores have is the pulse of the people.

Look at every social media platform. You can find a book community attached to it, whether it’s BookTok or BookTube.

This sense of community also exists offline. Readers are always looking for others to connect with. The problem is that traditional publishers are still treating them as if they’re numbers.

Independent bookstores thrive in providing a unique reading experience. You get more than just a great book when you visit an independent bookstore.

Visit any independent bookstore’s website and you’ll see a section announcing monthly events that everyone is welcomed to. These events are a fun way to build greater connections with customers.

Creative Ways of Connecting

Another fun way that independent bookstores connect with customers are mobile bookstores!

Mobile bookstores and pop-up shops are great ways to keep readers connected to books. Parents and schools can literally bring the bookstore to the children.

When it comes to reach, traditional publishing companies can only travel so far, especially if there aren’t any brick and mortar stores in a specific area.

These options allow all children to enjoy different books. They’re also a great way for independent bookstores to get to know their readers better and stay connected within the community.

The Power Of Collaboration

Every author knows that unless you are coming to the table with a certain audience, traditional publishing companies aren’t even trying to work with you.

With independent bookstores, you have a great opportunity to help build your audience.

There are so many great partnerships between authors and independent bookstores. Authors get the chance to introduce themselves to their target audience and promote their book while being themselves.

You also get the chance to work with an organization that truly cares about reading and publishing. Independent bookstores aren’t interested in the corporate politics that other traditional publishing companies may engage in.

They are knowledgeable about the latest trends in the publishing industry and even more passionate about helping new authors succeed.

In a way, independent bookstores are the plug. They connect different people in the community by offering different experiences.

Personal Testimony

Growing up, I visited all of the top bookstore chains. Even Borders.

But there was one experience that always stuck with me.

I grew up in Prince George’s County, Maryland. There weren’t a lot of bookstores in my area. But there was one independent bookstore in Oxon Hill that I loved visiting.

From this bookstore, I found books that I probably would not have come in contact with. It was at this bookstore that I was introduced to “Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry” by Mildred D. Taylor.

I read this book all throughout my 6th grade year. I even went back and finished reading the rest of Mildred D. Taylor’s book series.

Most importantly, I learned things about the Black American experience that I would not have learned from school.

I don’t even remember the name of that bookstore, but I remember how I felt when I came across that book for the first time.

I would not have had this same experience from Books-A-Million or Barnes & Noble. And that’s the power that independent bookstores have.

You have the ability to be introduced to that one book or author that can change your life.

Final Thoughts

Marketing comes down to 2 things: connection and adaptability.

Those are the two areas that independent bookstores excel in.

As an author, think about what you want out of your marketing strategy. If you want to establish real connections with your readers and keep your marketing fresh, consider working with independent bookstores.

If you want to continue to support independent bookstores, visit is an organization that’s serious about connecting readers with local, independent bookstores.

Share your thoughts in the comments section below.

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