Some surprising good news: libraries are booming and becoming more diverse

Many stores also saw a rise in profits. In a survey of booksellers earlier this year, the association found that about 80 percent of respondents said they saw higher sales in 2021 than in 2020, and nearly 70 percent said their sales last year were higher than in 2019. As Hill said.

At Blue Willow Bookshop in Houston, revenue was up 20 percent in 2021, and the store turned in more profit last year than it did in 2019, according to owner, Valerie Koehler. Mitchell Kaplan, founder of Books & Books, an independent chain in South Florida, said sales are up more than 60% in 2021 compared to 2020.

Many of the new stores that opened during the pandemic are run by non-white booksellers, among them Salt Eaters Library in Englewood, California, and specializes in books he has written and about women, girls, and non-binary people of color; The Libros Bookmobilea mobile library owned by a Latina in a converted school bus in Taylor, Texas, which stores fictional stories in Spanish and English, and reader blocka black-owned bookstore in Stratford, Connecticut.

Teri Hamm decided to open Kindred Stories in Houston, when her daughter, now 14, said she was bored with the books her mother used to bring home with her to read. An avid reader, she gravitates towards books about black childhood.

β€œIt dawned on me that she didn’t have the space in Houston to discover and explore all the amazing work on the market written by Black Voices,” Ms. Hamm said. “There was no place designated for her in mind.”

The rapid growth of physical bookstores is particularly surprising at a time when brick-and-mortar stores face overwhelming competition from Amazon and other online retailers. Many bookstore owners are also facing new uncertainty from a bleak macroeconomic outlook – labor shortages, supply chains, rising rents and interest rates, rising commodity costs, and a looming recession that could lead to lower consumer spending.

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