Note — Jan 26, 2020

Lessons for Retailers From the Rebirth of Indie Bookstores

Short take on a recent white paper by Ryan Raffaelli, a professor in the Organizational Behavior Unit at Harvard Business School; Reinventing Retail: The Novel Resurgence of Independent Bookstores (pdf). He has looked at indie bookstores in the US, Swiss watchmakers and pencil makers, and studies a phenomenon he calls “technology reemergence.” Also have a look for his 3Cs of resurgence: Community, Curation, and Convening. (There also a pretty good 6min video doc at the bottom.)

Something miraculous started happening in 2009, however. After falling for decades, the number of independent bookstores started to rise, climbing 49 percent in the next decade to nearly 2,500 stores nationwide. […]

“As a field researcher, I am bit like an anthropologist for business, I embed myself into an industry for multiple years to understand the nuances of what’s happening, and I try to uncover unexpected patterns that can be difficult to predict using traditional statistical models.” […]

“It’s almost like a social movement,” says Raffaelli, who says indie bookstores are “anchors of authenticity in an ever-increasing digital and disconnected world.”