Last year saw a net increase of 18 bookshops in Britain despite overall declines in retail store numbers. Here’s Shelf Awareness‘ 12 April story:

British Bookshops Defy Negative High Street Trends

Although a record number of small retailers closed in Britain last year–an average of 16 stores a day–bookshops “are bucking the trend,” the Bookseller reported. A record net 2,481 stores disappeared from Great Britain’s top 500 high streets in 2018. In total, 3,372 shops opened, compared to 5,833 closures. (2017 net loss: -1,772 stores), according to PwC research compiled by the Local Data Company.

Despite the widespread decline, “bookshops took second spot of the biggest growth categories after gyms with ice cream parlors. Bookshops reported a net change of 18 units with 42 openings and 24 closures,” the Bookseller wrote.

While welcoming the news, Booksellers Association managing director Meryl Halls said, “We are delighted that the PwC report confirms the strong showing for bookshops on our high streets that the BA highlighted earlier in the year, and we continue to be immensely proud of the hard work and creativity by booksellers that has led to this situation…

“Booksellers are creative and deft, but they can’t save high streets by themselves. We need to work in collaborations and civic partnerships with others to ensure our high streets survive and flourish, and we need government to recognize the enormous part high street retail plays in the culture and economy of the U.K. and act to support it, partly through business rates reform, which currently clearly unfairly favors online and out of town retail.”

Only gyms with ice cream parlors increased more quickly! I guess you put it on and take it off in one handy location. Food for the mind usually doesn’t require you to sweat it off, but after coffee shops and wine bars, is an ice cream parlor with a couple of treadmills the next idea for a bookshop?

What happened in USA? Well, during 2018 the American Booksellers Association gained 96 new members and in 2017, 75. The ABA is a membership organization which stores have to pay to belong to, so its membership list is by no means synonymous with “the independent bookstore”, but maybe we can assume a similar trend throughout the entire bookstore universe. In an NPR interview last year Ryan Raffaelli of Harvard Business School, claimed that between 2009 and “today” the number of independent bookstores in the USA increased by 40%. This piece from Statista shows a similar picture, slightly lower for companies, rather higher for locations. There’s a graph illustrating this at the link.

The long and the short of it is that for the moment independent bookstores are more than holding their own: sales increased about 5% last year according to Professor Raffaelli. I went to The Shed in Hudson Yards last week after it had been open for a couple of days, and they too have a bookstore.

See also Independent bookstores, where there’s a Professor Raffaelli video.