The student news site of El Camino College

El Camino College The Union

The student news site of El Camino College

El Camino College The Union

The student news site of El Camino College

El Camino College The Union

In the South Bay, small bookstores thrive

Bookstore cat Agatha Christie curls up next to some children’s books at Dave’s Olde Book Shop in Torrance on May 7. This friendly feline is always at the bookstore welcoming customers, sniffing new donations and exploring the many aisles available at the store. (Angela Osorio | The Union)

Amid the rise of ebooks, audiobooks and bookselling-monopolies, local bookstores have struggled to maintain their businesses and nurture a love for reading.

Major retailers that dominate the book sales industry, including Amazon and Barnes & Noble, have made it difficult for mom-and-pop bookstores to survive.

According to a 2019 report by research firm Codex Group, Amazon makes up about 72% of all U.S. book sales and 53% of print book sales.

Bookstore sales have also dropped from “$16.8 billion in 2007” to “$10.0 billion in 2017,” according to the US Census Bureau.

Many also say print is dying. Yet, studies show that several people still read and prefer print books over ebooks.

According to a 2021 study conducted by the Pew Research Center, “65% of adults [say] that they have read a print book in the past year.”

While many prefer the convenience of ordering a book on Amazon for a much lower price, others prefer to do their book shopping in person–even if it means spending a little more money.

The experience of walking into a bookshop, sifting through the spines, smelling the aroma of pages both old and new, finding a novel from the ‘40s inscribed with cursive handwriting dedicating the book to a loved one, chatting with a bookseller about the latest arrivals–this is what continues to draw readers to small bookstores.

Despite the competition from large retailers, small bookstores have still managed to thrive and maintain their business by creating a brand, promoting themselves on social media and offering unique products and services to the community.

According to a 2023 study conducted by Statista, “25 percent of respondents aged 18 to 29 years stated they shopped for books at a bookstore in the past 12 months.”

The Union found five bookstores near El Camino College that have long been community staples of the South Bay and are well-known for catering to a specific niche and fostering a love for reading.

Click here and join The Union in exploring these local bookstores, where you just might find your next read.

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