Canadian bookseller Indigo is growing fast. Are Big Bookstores back?

The growing Canadian bookstore chain recently expanded to the US even as other booksellers turn their final pages.


May 3, 2019

The Canadian bookseller Indigo recently opened its first American store. 

The company, which has hundreds of locations in Canada, is growing rapidly by positioning itself as a “cultural department store,” reports The New York Times.

Swimming upstream in a book-eat-book world

Big booksellers have had a bad few years: Borders went belly up in 2011, and Barnes & Noble is trying to write a new chapter after putting itself on the auction block last year.

But Indigo, on the other hand, is growing: The company recently surpassed 200 stores in Canada, including 89 superstores.

So, how is Indigo doing such big business? The answer isn’t between the lines, but beside them: Books account for just slightly over 50% of sales.

A bookstore that doubles as a lifestyle brand

Indigo also sells candles, art, trendy lunchboxes, herb kits, knife sets, glassware, home goods, and fashion accessories in addition to books.

The company believes that selling products that are physical extensions of its books makes the entire book-buying process more appealing, and customers seem to be on the same page.

Despite its success, Indigo still faces a bookstore battle royal. Amazon has recently opened physical bookstores, and the number of independent bookstores in the US increased from 1,651 to 2,470 over the past decade.

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