According to newly released data from the American Booksellers Association (ABA), 97 new independent bookstores opened in 2006.
The 2006 openings followed the launch of nearly 90 bookstores in 2005.
“2005 was the first year in memory that there were a significant number of new store openings,” said Oren Teicher, the ABA’s Chief Operating Officer. “From the mid-1990s until then, you could count the number of new bookstores that opened each year on one hand.”
Teicher noted that the number of bookstore closures each year continues to exceed the number of new stores, but that the gap has closed considerably.
The locations of the new stores spanned 35 states and included a wide range of cities and small towns, from Los Angeles to Pierre, South Dakota, and Homer, Louisiana.
“The number of new stores — and the intelligence and professionalism of these new owners — clearly demonstrates that independent bookselling is very much alive and well in the 21st century,” said ABA CEO Avin Mark Domnitz.
Similar signs of hope for independent retailers are evident in other sectors. Since 2002, there has been a net increase in the number of independent pharmacies in the United States. Growing numbers of new independent hardware stores are also opening, according to the wholesale cooperatives Ace and Do It Best.