Since we launched in late 2019, we have been learning a lot from other booksellers, trade associations, cooperative organizations, and advocates who are standing up for small business and for a more equitable and fair economy. We created this page to inform our customers about the ways in which we have worked with these organizations and trade associations to help transform our economy into one that works for all of us and not just giant corporations and the wealthiest 1%.
Supporting Indie Bookstores
Bookstores are often vital hubs for the community and the local economy, which is why big box stores and online retailers cannot completely replace them. In his January 2020 study, Reinventing Retail: The Novel Resurgence of Independent Bookstores, Harvard Business School Prof. Ryan Raffaelli identified three reasons why indie bookstores have survived three major economic challenges presented by big box stores, the advent of the e-books, and Amazon.com. They are the “three Cs” of Community, Curation, and Convening.
Rozzie Bound is also an active member of two important trade associations that support independent bookstores:
The ABA is also part of a growing organizing effort to strengthen local economies through anti-trust and monopoly reform at the federal level. We recently spoke with an organizer from Institute for Local Self-Reliance on how to support this important campaign called Small Business Rising.
In December 2020, RB formed a Cooperative Steering Committee to explore the possibility of incorporating as a worker or multi-stakeholder (worker + consumer) cooperative. Though not yet a co-op, we have become a member of the Greater Boston Chamber of Cooperatives, a coalition of worker co-ops (businesses owned by the employees), consumer co-ops (businesses owned by customers), and housing co-ops (housing owned by residents). GBCC “centers racial and economic justice in its work of strengthening and expanding the Greater Boston cooperative economy through education, advocacy, and collaboration among its member organizations. Through shared resources and cross-sector collective action, we are working to build a more just, democratic, and sustainable economy.”
Through GBCC, we met Micky Metts, one of five worker owners of a technology cooperative called Agaric that “specializes in building tools and websites that respect your freedom.” Agaric also provides training and consultation with the goal of helping all people gain the most power possible over their own lives. Agaric has long been interested in developing open source software for independent bookstores. In April 2021, Rozzie Bound and Agaric co-hosted a Bookselling Technology Brainstorm Session attended by seven cooperative bookstores across the country. The group is now planning to gather monthly as a Cooperative Booksellers Meetup.
Rozzie Bound has also worked with Boston Ujima Project, a dynamic, cooperative organization that envisions “a just and sustainable Boston… based on the belief that we all have a role to play in creating an equitable economy.” In March, Ujima held several co-learning workshops on bookselling and invited Rozzie Bound, founder Roy Karp to present. Several innovative ideas emerged in dsicusing the high cost of commercial rent in Boston, including pop-ups, a bookmobile, and even the creation of a Community Land Trust for commercial property, pioneered in Alaska by the Anchorage Community Land Trust.
Finally, we have also created a virtual bookshelf dedicated to Cooperatives and the Solidarity Economy.