2005 – 1,562
2006 – 1,483
2007 – 1,422
2009 – 1,350
Curiously, figures from Book Marketing Limited show that between 2003 and July 2007, sales through independents grew by 2% in volume and 10% in value. The reason cited at the time was that those less efficient independents that were perhaps protected by the NBA had fallen by the wayside, leaving the well-run businesses to carve out a niche. BML has its annual Books and the Consumer Conference at the end of next month and it will be interesting to see the updated figures.
The independents v chains debate is one that frequently leads to a lively debate on the Comments section of the Bookseller’s website (http://www.thebookseller.com/news/76068-hard-year-for-indies-as-numbers-dwindle.html). Here’s a recent comment: ‘There is of course a vast difference between (i) a local indie that serves a people and a place, is embedded there, who answers to that place - not a faceless board in London - and whose relatively modest profits largely stay in the local economy and (ii) a here today/gone tomorrow chain store branch with no real interest in the area except insofar as it contributes towards the corporate bottom line and the wealth of shareholders (who themselves have no local connection),and whose use of local business-to business services is minimal….It should otherwise be obvious that one sustains and nurtures the local community and the other takes from it as much as it can, notwithstanding the provision of local "sponsorship", events, etc when HQ decides it would be prudent PR.’
(Above: Standing proud: Main Street Trading Company in St Boswells, Scotland)