Independent bookstores attract readers with their olde-worlde charm

Despite their small space, independent bookshops have still been attractive with their olde-worlde charm and their suggestion of a life where there's time to potter among the shelves.

A special section in an independent bookstore for children (Photo: SGGP)

A special section in an independent bookstore for children (Photo: SGGP)

Presently, Kinh van hoa” (Kaleidoscope) bookstore named after a book of veteran Vietnamese children’s writer Nguyen Nhat Anh has not sold all kinds of books but only displayed and sold Nguyen Nhat Anh’s books. He is among the country’s most successful and prolific children’s writer, with his books appealing greatly to kids, teenagers as well as adults.
However, the bookstore is still a place book lovers pay regular visits in Ho Chi Minh City.
In the city, just some independent bookstores such as Kafka, Momo, Tri Van, Neta have allured readers with various ways. For instance, while Momo bookstore takes heed to old books to entice bibliophile, Neta bookstore renovated their stores to stay friendly with wooden shelves, Tri Van bookstore just sells Tri Van bookstore specializes in academic and scholarly books to serve certain readers.
Kafka sells a certain type of books to help readers to pick the books they wanted as quickly as possible. Readers will receive proper consultation while customers buy online will receive thank-you cards or notes. Additionally, the bookstore also market books to each house and office in the city.
Specially, the bookstore offers summer reading program. Owner of Kafka bookstore Thanh Thuan said that the bookstore markets children books to company staffs in special days like Christmas or Children Day ( June 1).
Amid cut-throat competition from traditional bookstores, supermarkets, Amazon and ebooks, many independent bookstores nowadays attract more customers through the use of social media networks. Social networks offer a significant opportunity for bookstore marketing.
Ms. Thanh Thuan said independent bookstores face the extra challenge from digital and the big online retailers. They experienced a decline of 20 percent in profit; worse, the more e-books drop price, the more independent bookstores suffer loss.
Owner of Tri Van bookstore Nguyen Van Hiep said his bookstore will offer discount on rare books or books which e-bookstores don’t have to cope with e-bookstores’ “storm of discount”. Tri Van’s turnover in 2019 is better than last year and its turnover growth proves its good sale strategies.
Mr. Hiep said that the bookstore was small ones but in September, 2018, the management board decided to tweak the size and format of its stores with focus on optimally sized stores to display more books and better curation of offerings to woo customers.
Ms. Thanh Thuan acknowledged fierce competition; but on the other hand, she believes the survival of independent bookstores because books are special commodity which customer want to touch it, read it before buying it.

By HO SON - Translated by UYEN PHUONG

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