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Local Bookstores Still Finding Ways to Stay Open

A local bookstore owner explains how she’s been able to stay in business during the uncertain economy.

While the national chain bookstore Borders closed its doors in Bloomington for good last week… quaint, local bookstores are still finding a way to survive.

After 15 years on Bloomington’s east side, the 26,000 square foot Borders is now closed. Spokesperson Mary Davis said the store was one of a number across the nation that was not meeting company criteria required to stay open.

But, downtown on the square, local bookstore Howard’s, is still open after more than four decades. Owner Joie Canada said the business serves customers all over the world.

“Our philosophy is to match people up exactly with the book they want, not its second cousin,” said Canada. “This is a problem because if you order from Amazon or eBay, you may get the wrong book.”

No website, café or lounge couches here… it’s about developing a niche.

“We try not to do a website because we like to deal with people. That’s what the chains are about, a product. But we’re dealing with information,” said Canada.

Bloomington Chamber of Commerce President Christy Gillenwater said locally owned stores like Howard’s, are successful at least in part because they can operate on more of a community level.

“I think there are still plenty of people who still want that face to face, someone to help me,” said Gillenwater. “I want to touch and feel that book as to ordering it online and so to some degree it’s meeting the needs of clients out there, that they have a niche.”

Seven other local bookstores are still open throughout the city as well.

Joe Hren

Anchor, Indiana Newsdesk - WTIU & WFIU News. Follow him on Twitter @Joe_Hren

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