Small, independent bookstores in neighborhoods across the United States are places to discover new books and make friends. About 20 years ago, stores like these were closing in large numbers because of competition from large bookstores and online book sales.

But about 10 years ago something unusual happened: independent bookstores seemingly came back to life. Many are profitable, and the number of stores is growing.

In a Virginia community called Arlington, many people buy their books at a store called One More Page Books. Customer Cheryl Moore says she likes the personal service she receives at small bookstores.

Moore told VOA: "I think they pay attention to the kinds of books people like to read. They have book clubs, so I don't think it's a place where people just buy books, but make friends here.”

After almost dying off, small, independent bookstores grew by 35 percent between 2009 and 2015. The American Booksellers Association says sales at the more than 2,400 bookstores across the country rose about 5 percent over the past year.

Hooray for Books is an independent store specializing in children's books. It opened 11 years ago in Alexandria, Virginia. Owner Ellen Klein thinks part of her store’s success has been providing many different kinds of books.

Customer Sarah Reidl looks at all the children’s books and said, "You just can't really browse on the internet. I like to be able to browse and look for things…that catch my eye."

Kristen Maier lives in Missouri, but often comes to Hooray for Books when she visits the Washington, DC area for work. She does not think electronic devices can replace the feeling of holding a real book.

“If you don’t have a nice book to pass down to your grandkids or their grandkids, you just kind of lose that sense of history and tradition for your family,” she said.

Independent bookstores know they have to sell more than books. One More Page tries to appeal to people by offering them wine or chocolate they can take home along with a book.

"We are a place where you can come for events, you can meet writers, get books signed, and buy books you might not necessarily (find) on your own,” said Nebeker.

Exercise 1


Read the following vocabulary with your teacher.

online – adj. connected to a computer, a computer network, or the Internet

customer – n. someone who buys goods or services from a business

club – n. a group of people who meet to participate in an activity

browse – v. to look at many things in a store, in a newspaper, etc., to see if there is something interesting or worth buying

grandkid – n. the child of one’s child


Exercise 2


Answer these questions about the article.

1. What happened to small, independent bookstores about 10 years ago?

2. Where is One More Page Books located?

3. How much did small, independent bookstores grow between 2009 and 2015?

4. What kind of books does Hooray for Books specialize in?


Exercise 3

Make a sentence.

Make sentences using these words.

online, customer, club, browse, grandkid


Exercise 4


Have a discussion on following questions.

1. What do you think of the fact that small, independent bookstores are gaining popularity?

2. Do you have a favourite bookstore?

3. Do you prefer small, independent shops or large chain stores?

4. How often do you buy books?



This lesson is based on a news article originally published by VOA.