The number of independent bookstores in the United States grew by more than a third in the six years to 2015. According to the American Booksellers Association, there are now 2,321 indie stores. It’s part of a “bifurcation of the industry,” says Ryan Raffaelli, a professor at Harvard Business School, “where the indies represent this high experience, a chance for the consumer to engage on a set of very personal dimensions, versus Amazon, which is really about, can I just get something quickly at the cheapest price?”

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