Book-selling upheaval also opportunity

To say that retail book sellers have had their industry turned upside down may understate the change brought about by information age-fueled innovations.

Digital technology has made reading a book as easy as booting up a hand-held device, while purchasing one to read (either in print or digitally) can be done at home as easily as anywhere else.

One result of this disruption has been the challenging landscape for independent bookstores. And while it is too early to know if the brick-and-mortar, independent bookstore will remain vibrant through the 21st century, there are some signs that in Rhode Island, at least, they are holding their own.

One key is putting the customer at the center of the action through superior service and unique offerings. It could mean specialization in certain types of books, or in the case of one bookstore set to open in September, it could be being a half bar, half bookstore (one that will stay open until midnight for browsing, eating and conversation).

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Yes, the landscape is much different than it once was. But it is not unmanageable.