Locally owned bookstores surge back in popularity after rough few years

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Monday, August 15, 2022
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E-readers and other technology slammed the bookstore business years ago, but today brick and mortar bookstores are surging back in popularity.

CHAPEL HILL, N.C. (WTVD) -- E-readers and other technology slammed the bookstore business years ago, but today brick and mortar bookstores are surging back in popularity.

Five years ago, The Bookshop of Chapel Hill had to close. The store had been going strong on Franklin Street for more than 30 years, but times had changed.

But just like times can change for the worse, they can change for the better too. Now, bookstores report a resurgence of business -- including a new bookstore on Franklin Street and another in Durham.

Obviously, we can't help the economics, but we can continue working hard on this mission to be here for you in whatever way you need through a book through the people that talk with you at the cafe. We cannot keep going. We can't. We can't fail our community," Epilogue Books owner Jaime Sanchez said.

Epilogue Books is part of the resurgence of locally owned bookstores.

"We couldn't let a downtown not have a bookstore. Also, we wanted to make sure we had a proper mission to provide living wage jobs, provide health care for employees in a space that typically didn't. We were able to make that happen. We were able to do that we were able to also elevate the voices of minorities, the LGBTQIA plus community through the books that we carry."

Another locally owned bookstore in the area is Rofhiwa Book Cafe. It specializes in Black literature.

"It has been an interesting experiment, growing something that is very improvisational...And I think that challenges us as well to keep trying to figure out how we can also offer an interesting experience," Naledi Yaziyo said. Because we're not downtown, people don't stumble into our space. People make time, find time to bring their families, bring their friends from out of town, bring their children."

"The idea was to always try and create a or put together a selection of books that reflect the extent to which Black people have always been writing across the world, in various places (including) children's literature as well, to suggest that there's a long tradition of storytelling. You'll see folktales in all kinds of ways, experiments with forms (by) Black writers across the world writing for children. And that's an intervention in this (claim) that 'there is no literature for children because Black people don't write literature for children.' They do, actually. Folktales and oral traditions are also part of our long tradition of story," Yaziyo said.