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How Indie Bookstores Can Battle Amazon

Time for local shops to go high-tech: Farhad Manjoo
By Matt Cantor,  Newser Staff
Posted Dec 22, 2011 1:42 PM CST
Farhad Manjoo: How Indie Bookstores Can Battle Amazon
Bookstores can fight back against Amazon.   (Getty Images)

(Newser) – After sparking a debate over the value independent bookstores, Farhad Manjoo is presenting a peace offering. Independent bookstores may be inefficient from a financial perspective, but that doesn't mean they're "doomed," he writes at Slate. If we want to keep such bookstores going, we can't just go and browse: We need to buy, and that means they need to sell better. It's time for them to start innovating the way Amazon has: "Tablets and smartphones could be store owners’ best weapons against Jeff Bezos—if only they’d embrace them."

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Many readers turn to the online retail giant for its well-crafted review system, which is free to use—why not co-opt it? Bookstores could highlight books that have gotten good reviews on Amazon, Manjoo suggests. And shops should try out AisleBuyer, which lets indie stores create their own apps. Customers can buy with their phones in-store; shops can track customer purchases to make recommendations. Apps could also help them connect staff to customers with matching interests. To store owners: "Amazon is stealing your customers. This is a way to fight back." (Read more reading stories.)

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