Aug 1, 2022 - Things to Do

Twin Cities bookstores thrive as readers look to shop local

Illustration of a wall of book shelves with gold books aligned in a dollar sign.
Illustration: Victoria Ellis/Axios

Twin Cities independent bookstores are thriving as customers look to local sources for the latest reads.

The big picture: Though brick and mortar stores are struggling in the age of online shopping, indie bookstores have seen a resurgence nationwide over the last few years, per the New York Times.

State of play: Axios spoke to five independent book stores across the Twin Cities, and all said they’ve returned to or exceeded pre-pandemic sales numbers.

What they’re saying: An increase in foot traffic as people get out more is a big reason behind the boom, several stores told Axios.

So is a desire to shop local, said Excelsior Bay Books co-owner Ann Woodbeck.

  • “People believed what they heard during the pandemic: if you don’t support local businesses, they won’t be there when you come back. Our regulars cared that we survived,” Woodbeck said.

Yes, and:BookTok,” a subcommunity on TikTok where users recommend literature, has also contributed to the local bookstore hype.

  • Subtext Books owner Matt Keliher said he’s added a romance section partially because the genre is so popular on BookTok.
  • Birchbark Books & Native Arts, which primarily stocks Native authors, sees customers visit just to make TikToks about the store, manager Halee Kirkwood told Axios.

What’s next: Though there might be the regular seasonal slump, bookstores think the boom is here to stay.

  • “People value personal recommendations and their local community. We’re doing better than ever before, and I think we’ll stay that way,” Kirkwood said.
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