Indies with 'Grit Lit, Supper Club & a Store on Wheels'

In a piece headlined "How to run a bookstore in the Amazon era: Grit lit, supper club and a store on wheels," the Post & Courier showcased several Charleston, S.C., indies that are thriving with innovative ways of doing business.

Since 2015, the owners of Itinerant Literate Books "have parked their mobile store at block parties, breweries and coffee shops around the Charleston area anywhere they can attract a curious passerby."

"I'm always surprised by people who want to talk the nuts and bolts and economics of bookselling," said co-owner Christen Thompson Lain. "They don't just ask, 'Where do you get your books?' "

At Blue Bicycle Books, owner Jonathan Sanchez "has tweaked the business model" since buying the shop in 2007, the Post & Courier wrote. "Now, in addition to used books, new books and events like the blockbuster YALLFest young-adult literature festival are a major part of the store's success."

"Retail is weird," Sanchez said. "If people are going to shop in person for something, it's for the experience of shopping."

In Spartanburg, the Hub City Bookshop "has become a hub for Southern literati," the Post & Courier noted. Store manager Anne Waters said: "People still read. It's very heartening. They like hobnobbing with writers, and they like discussing books. I don't want to get political about it, but it is interesting, people are seeking ideas."

Ashley Warlick, founding partner of M. Judson Booksellers in Greenville, said a popular event is the monthly Sit-Down Supper, featuring an author and a local chef serving a menu designed around that author's work.

"It's kind of interpretive dance. It's really fun," she noted, adding: "One of the things helping booksellers is the idea of the return to the experience. The experience of shopping in a strip mall is something we grew up with that we don't have the same romantic ideas about as coming up a beautiful staircase into a building and touching beautiful books."

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