Farmington bookstore adjusts to digital economy

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FARMINGTON, N.M. (AP) — A local bookstore is teaming up with a major wholesaler to sell books online.

Andrea Kristina's Bookstore & Kafé, at 218 W. Main St. in downtown Farmington, is selling books through a website backed by wholesaler Baker & Taylor.

The bookstore and restaurant receives revenue from any books bought through Andrea Kristina's website at andreakristinasbookstorekafe.com.

The books are shipped from Reno, Nev., and delivered to the customer's door in about three days.

"I make the same profit whether they buy here or online," said Claudia Anderson, bookseller at Andrea Kristina's.

The site also sells e-books along with movies on DVD and music — items not sold in the brick-and-mortar store.

"It increases my inventory reach by a factor of not hundreds, but thousands," Anderson said.

Andrea Kristina's, like most bookstores, is navigating the shift to online shopping and digital books.

Andrea Kristina's also gets by through its coffee and food sales — the cafe, or kafe, as they call it, is a popular spot for breakfast and lunch.

Yet book sales are up at Andrea Kristina's. October was the bookstore's best month in nearly a year, partly because of a busy schedule of in-store events, Anderson said.

The bookstore is a luxury for people on a budget, Anderson said.

"This place is the first you cut out when you have to tighten your belt," she said. "Let's face it, it's lattes and books. What's more evocative of discretionary spending?"

The fact that the bookstore's sales are increasing indicates the local retail economy may be improving, she said. "I have the sense that Farmington is doing better because we are."

Anderson believes there will be a place for the bookstore.

Books that are well-made enough to be art objects in themselves, and children's books will remain popular in print, she said.

"There are some items that some people will want to handle before they buy," she said. "Books is one of them. Shoes is another."

Another Four Corners independent bookstore, Maria's Bookshop in Durango, Colo., uses a similar online system through Ingram Book Co., another major wholesaler.

"I think it's a good method," said co-owner Peter Schertz. "It allows us to fill the need of any customer, regardless of whether it's on the bookshelf or not."

Maria's is going a step further: The bookstore will soon begin selling an e-reading device, the Kobo.

The device is made by a Canadian company and touted by the American Booksellers Association, an industry trade group. Maria's hopes to begin selling the Kobo by Nov. 15, in time for the bulk of the holiday shopping season.

"We're trying to kind of go with the flow here and provide reading material in whatever method people are reading," Schertz said. "We're pretty excited about it."

Some customers still value a well-bound book printed on paper.

At Andrea Kristina's on Friday, Vance Claassen of Farmington came to the register with a new novel.

"I like the hardbacks," he said. "I like the permanence of them."