What’s happening to local bookstores in an age of technology?
In our modern era, the local bookstore is seemingly almost extinct, but in Frankfort, it's thriving.
FRANKFORT, Ky. (WTVQ) – It’s no secret: we’re living in an age with information and shopping quite literally at our fingertips.
In our modern era, the local bookstore is seemingly almost extinct, but in Frankfort, it’s thriving.
Gretchen Bates is 22 years old and from Lawrenceburg. She says she’s been an avid reader all her life. She’s been going to Poor Richard’s Books in Frankfort for years, but says among her Gen-Z aged friends, whether they read is split.
“Yes and no, yes and no. I’d say it’s a good fifty-fifty. I have friends who love to read and friends who absolutely will not pick up a book,” said Bates.
However, according to a survey from Forbes, 81 percent of Gen-Z-ers prefer to shop local, and Bates says this is true for her and her friends.
“I just prefer to give my money to, I don’t know, people who are upholding nice, like, local areas. I know this book shop has been here for a while, so it feels good to support them as opposed to a huge corporation,” said Bates.
Lizz Taylor, owner of Poor Richard’s Books since she bought it in 1978, has watched the ebb and flow of her bookstore for decades. She says she’s seeing a return of customers wanting to shop at small bookstores.
“It has been a trend that bookstores have been fading over the past with box stores and online sales, but now, there seems to be a newer trend with smaller retail stores coming back into existence,” said Taylor, “One of my major distributors said they’ve set up more bookstores in the past year than they have in the last 10 years. So yes, the trend may be reversing.”
Kathy Thomas, a visitor from Louisville, says she prefers the atmosphere of smaller book shops, liking to support more “mom and pop” places.
“It’s more welcoming, it’s more personal, and the big box stores are just big and bright,” said Thomas.
Taylor says what’s kept her book shop customers coming back is her approach to the business.
“Really get to know your customers. Listen to what your customers want. And then use that information to help stock your inventory,” said Taylor, “not necessarily all the big titles. But know what your customers want and what they’re interested in.”
Maybe it’s the cozy feel, maybe it’s the smell, or maybe it’s the personal customer service, but small bookstores might not be on their way out after all.