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Mom-and-pop bookstores see surprising retail plot twist

Independent bookstore boom
Independent bookstore boom 01:53

NEW YORK -- Retailers across the country are adding up their holiday receipts. Among the businesses that were expecting an increase in sales this year were mom-and-pop bookstores.

All the technology at people’s fingertips was supposed to spell the end of books in people’s hands.

But Jessica Stockton-Bagnulo has a different story to tell.

“It is a really good time to be a bookstore,” she said. 

The Greenlight Bookstore in Brooklyn, New York.  CBS News

She’s the co-founder of Greenlight Bookstore in Brooklyn, which just opened a new location. It’s part of a national boom in independent bookstores, which have added more than 550 locations since 2010.

“There’s only so much that digital can do, and we’re human, ... we want that interaction with the physical world,” Stockton-Bagnulo said. 

It turns out the book is a pretty good technology itself: You don’t have to charge it, you can take it anywhere and it works anytime.

The sheer ease and pleasure of a physical book may be why print sales are booming -- up 50 million units since 2013.

Greenlight Bookstore in Brooklyn, New York.  CBS News

Of course, it’s not all a happy story. Barnes & Noble has shut more than 150 stores in the past decade.

Barnabus Crosby said he hopes his young daughter will shop at a bookstore when she grows up. That’s just another reason to root for the mom-and-pop bookseller in your neighborhood.

“It’s important for me to kind of pass on to her my love of reading and my love of books, like my mom did for me and my grandmother did for my mother,” Crosby said.

The idea that little bookstores are dying goes back to the 1990s movie “You’ve Got Mail.” Meg Ryan’s character closed her shop. But in real life, New York’s Books Of Wonder - the shop believed to have inspired the movie - is still going strong.

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