Despite mounting competition, independent bookstores "have stood their ground" in New Jersey and nationwide--"actually, they've thrived, growing in numbers by more than a third between 2009 and 2015," New Jersey 101.5 reported in showcasing several of the state's indie booksellers.
"Like any business, you have to figure out a way to differentiate yourself from the chains and from the online experience, and that's worked well for us for the last 16 years," said Walter Boyer, owner of Bookends in Ridgewood. "Bookstores continue to be a great pulse of the community, a great meeting-gathering place."
Jonah Zimiles, co-owner of [words] Bookstore in Maplewood (and a second branch coming to Livingston), observed: "People in our community believe in shopping local and supporting the local businesses."
Event planner Maribeth Pelly at BookTowne in Manasquan said the shop has been "hustling as much as it can to grab market share.... We have built up a great reputation. The community relies on us just for a good reference, a good experience to have a dialogue about a topic or a gift."
At the Bookworm in Bernardsville, owner Mary Ann Donaghy said that while the amount of foot traffic can vary greatly from day to day, "thank God it's enough to keep us in business without worrying too much. But it does keep us on our toes."