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Archive for June 29th, 2009:

Cowboy Up with IndieBound

posted June 29, 2009

Posted by Erin Brown in Bookselling uncategorized

What recourse does a lone independent bookseller (or even several hundred of them) have to fight the megapower of Amazon? Everyone knows the indies can’t compete on price when Amazon can leverage its economies of scale to sell books at significant discounts.

On the other hand, the algorithms of the Amazon brain (Customers Who Bought This Item Also Bought…) are no substitute for the informed, individual, hands-on customer servicethe inspired and unusual recommendationsthat you’re likely to get at your local independent (if it still exists). And the indies know it.


That’s why they’re rallying around IndieBound, an initiative from the American Booksellers Association (ABA), designed to champion the “buy local” movement. Members are banded together by a common logo and a fierce “Declaration” that opens like this:

When in the course of human events it becomes necessary for individuals to denounce the corporate bands which threaten to homogenize our cities and our souls, we must celebrate the powers that make us unique and declare the causes which compel us to remain independent.

Introduced a year ago, IndieBound is an expanded, rebranded, and reenergized version of BookSense, the ABA’s original vehicle for promoting the cause of independents. The new website features bookseller recommendations and best-seller lists, as well as copious DIY resources for independent booksellers to customize their IndieBound identities. By joining the community, users can create their own personalized wish lists, plug their favorite stores, and participate in social networking activities.

Big news at the BEA in May was the launch of IndieBound’s new iPhone application. Here are some of its features:

• Browse indie bookseller recommendation lists (The Indie Next List, The Kids Indie Next List) and best-seller lists (The Indie Bestseller Lists)

• Search for books from a comprehensive database of in-print titles

• Review detailed book information

• Buy books online from indie bookstores

• Find local, indie bookstores nearby or across the United States

• Find other independently owned businesses, like coffee shops, movie theaters, and bicycle stores

The application’s been downloaded more than 60,000 times in a monthwhich seems like a glimmer of hope in this otherwise dark night of the indie bookseller’s soul.