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updated: 4/23/2012 6:25 AM

We read more e-books, but indie bookstores prosper

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Of course Kindles and Nooks have changed book retailing, but maybe not as much as doomsayers once predicted. According to Pew Internet, part of the Washington, D.C.-based Pew Research Center:

• 21 percent of American adults read an e-book in the last year. That number jumped from 17 percent after a passel of e-reader holiday gifts.

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• The printed book isn't dead, however. Again according to Pew, 72 percent of us read a printed book last year. In fact, 88 percent of those who read an e-book also read a traditionally formatted book.

Yet there's no doubt that "E-books have taken a certain part of the market," says Donna Paz Kaufman, a trainer at The Bookstore Training Group of Paz & Associates Inc., a Fernandina Beach, FL, consultant to bookstore owners and startups. "Entrepreneurs must realize they must change how they serve customers."

Two suburban independent bookstores that connect well with their markets are Forest Park's Centuries & Sleuths Bookstore, and Read Between the Lynes in Woodstock.

Both stores sell e-books on their websites. "Of course," answers Arlene Lynes, owner at Read Between the Lynes Inc. "Why would I send my customers someplace else to buy an e-book? Why would I want to give up that market share?"

But, adds Augie Aleksy, whose Centuries & Sleuths won a national award last year for contributions to the mystery community, "There's an evolution. People go back to books. On a business trip, they may read their Kindle, but at home, when they read for enjoyment, people want a real book."

Promotions at both stores are event driven. Author signings are a staple, but events fit the store.

Lynes is a believer that "an independent bookstore can bring a lot of heart and soul to a community." Thus a birthday party April 14 for the store's canine mascots (family pets) requested no gifts other than a donation to Woodstock's Helping Paws Animal Shelter, and Sourcebooks, a Naperville publisher, is chipping in with donations based on the store's sales of "Things Your Dog Doesn't Want You to Know."

This past weekend, Lynes organized an event that began with champagne, cheese and pate at Woodstock's La Petite Creperie & Bistrot, included a chocolate tasting by Ethereal Confections, Woodstock, and wrapped up with a presentation by Amy Thomas, author of "Paris, My Sweet: A Year in the City of Light and Dark Chocolate."

Activities at Centuries & Sleuths range from discussions with historical characters portrayed by members of the store's history discussion group to a publisher-backed Great Mystery Bus Tour that last week brought four important authors to the store for a signing, and meetings of the Midwest chapter of Mystery Writers of America, whose meeting yesterday was scheduled to focus on blood stain evidence.

• Jim Kendall welcomes comments at JKendall@121MarketingResources.com. 2012 121 Marketing Resources Inc.

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