Despite struggles and changing times, bookstore owners are positive that the narrative around mom-and-pop used bookstores is still alive.
“I’m tired of ‘the bookstore is dead’ story,” said Ana DeVere, who owned Plaza Books, 7380 S. Eastern Ave, which closed in December. “I see a resurgence of the bookstore.”
With the rise of e-readers and the presence of chain stores, bookstore owners know the value of holding a book, whether it’s a first-edition paperback or an out-of-print hardcover.
Though they might have to make adjustments to their business models, shop owners continue to enjoy the bookselling industry.
“We do it because we love it,” DeVere added.
DeVere believes there is still steam left in the industry.
Her problem was more dealing with landlords and increasing rent.
“The smartest thing you can do is buy your building,” she said.
Plaza Books opened in 1995.
“I wanted a bookstore for 26 years,” DeVere said.
In the first year to better promote herself, she began selling online to gain traction.
For the first couple of years, 75 percent of her business was online while 25 percent was walk-in customers.
“And then it flipped,” she said. “I developed a loyal customer base.”
Because of her diverse selection, DeVere said chain stores such as Barnes & Noble would refer people to Plaza Books if they were looking for something that might be out of print.
Even with closing chain stores and the introduction of e-readers, DeVere said it was the cost of the books that had an impact on sales.
She believes bookstores will always be around but foresees the future of specialty bookstores on the rise.
“It can be more viable than a general bookstore,” she said.
DeVere is transitioning to an online model to sell her books.
For more information, visit plazabooks
She still is handing out advice for other bookstore owners in town.
“They are the next generation,” she said.
One of them is Shereen Hale, who has operated the Book Boutique, 19 Pacific Ave., for eight years.
“We have been able to self-sustain,” Hale said.
She opened the Henderson store when she was looking for a change from her previous career in social work.
The clientele she gets is mostly locals, she said.
“Every once in a while we get a person from out of state who looked us up and saw we had good reviews,” she said. “It’s mostly people in the area or from Boulder City.”
One of the things that Hale said sets her apart is her trade program, where people can come in to trade their used book and get another for $1.75.
Even though she has a collection of used books, she said she does get new editions.
“I’m always on the lookout,” she said.
Hale also sells online.
The business is about 80 percent walk-ins and 20 percent online.
“The online side is growing,” she said.
The last few months, she has increased her online sales on amazon.com and ebay.com.
It wasn’t the closing of larger bookstores that worried Hale.
“It was the growth of e-readers,” she said. “But I think people will always want books.”
Hale said she continues to get her loyal customers. She added that she believes bookstores will always be around.
“They add culture to the community,” she said. “They go hand and hand with coffee shops and add a lot of personality.”
Kim Henry is just starting out in the industry.
She is scheduled to open her store, Book or Book, 3460 E. Sunset Road, Feb. 1.
“I have always wanted a bookstore,” she said. “I have collected books all my life. I have close to 5,000 or 6,000.”
In 2010, she started selling online with the goal to own a brick-and-mortar store.
In addition to her collection, she has spent the last few years scouting for more books to add to her store.
Along with a collection of used books, Henry hopes to feature local authors and have programs that promote literacy.
She added that she has some new books as well.
Henry also found there are resources for new store owners.
The Las Vegas Bookmans Guild meets monthly to help those in the industry connect and share ideas on the changing trends of selling books.
Henry, who attends meetings, said all the owners help each other.
“We don’t see each other as competition,” she said. “It’s not like we get our books from Random House. We don’t get 10,000 copies of the newest books. We each have our selection of unique books.”
Henry added that the advice of her peers has been invaluable.
“They have given me an education of a lifetime,” she said.
Phil DeFlumear, who owns Greyhound’s Books, 4704 W. Charleston Blvd., and is the founder of the Las Vegas Bookmans Guild, teaches a class at UNLV for people interested in learning about bookstores.
“Owning a bookstore is the most fun you can have without taking your clothes off,” he said.
Bookstore 101 goes over the basics of the book trade.
“The class shows people how to own and operate a quality bookstore,” he said. “Bookstore 101 gives people the basics like proper vocabulary in the book trade. We talk about paperback books, hardbound and limited editions.”
One piece of advice DeFlumear gives for aspiring store owners is to constantly upgrade their stock.
He added that one of the best things for small stores has been the demise of Borders.
His current class has seven students, two of whom are hoping to sell online and eventually open a brick-and-mortar store.
For more information on the class, visit edoutreach.unlv.edu or call 702-895-3394.
Contact Henderson/Anthem View reporter Michael Lyle at email@example.com or 702-387-5201.