Fig Garden Bookstore owner Jean Shore has survived plenty of business challenges in almost 25 years as a bookseller.
First came the arrival in Fresno of big-chain bookstores like Barnes & Noble in 1992 and Borders in 1998. The rise of Amazon.com followed through the first decade of this century.
Now, the growing popularity of "e-books" — electronic titles downloaded to computers, tablet readers or smart phones — represents new competition for Shore and other independent bookstore owners in California and across the country.
"We'll have to diversify and learn to do things differently," Shore said.
Bookstores hope to stay relevant through a blend of new and old strategies: appealing to people who continue to favor the tactile, page-turning experience of a "real" book; selling book-related merchandise, toys and gifts; focusing on specialty titles and local authors; and, to a growing degree, finding ways to offer e-books themselves.
E-book sales in the U.S. have blossomed from $7.3 million in 2002 to $113.2 million in 2008, according to the Association of American Publishers.
The market exploded in 2009, reaching $313.2 million. Yet e-books remain just a small fraction of the overall book market, which has remained relatively flat over the past decade at between $22 billion and $25 billion per year.
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