Indie bookselling is back,” Vivien Jennings, owner of Rainy Day Books in Fairway, Kans., proclaimed after a strong holiday season, with sales for 2015 up 11% over 2014. She’s not alone. “We had tremendous support from the community,” said Chris Curry, owner of the nine-year-old Novel Experience in Zebulon, Ga., which was up 20% for December, 10% for the year. “People would walk in and say they were going to buy all their presents here, because they wanted to support community businesses.”
The shop-local movement, good weather, and a strengthening economy boosted sales at a number of stores across the country. For the sixth year in a row, BookPeople in Austin had its best year, up 7.5% over 2014. It also recorded its best single sales day, December 23, and its best month, December, according to CEO Steve Bercu. Ann Nye, owner of Excelsior Bay Books in the Minneapolis suburb of Excelsior, hasn’t finished tallying her figures, but she anticipates that 2015 will be the store’s best; it turns 20 in the spring. Women & Children First in Chicago marked its highest sales day since the store’s founding in 1979. Overall, sales were up 20% from last year. Co-owner Sarah Hollenbeck attributed that partly to social media. The store added 3,000 new “likes” on Facebook and created Twitter and Instagram accounts.