DANVILLE, Ky. (LEX 18) — Good news for book lovers everywhere: small bookstores nationwide are flourishing, despite a nearly 30% drop in sales in 2020.
In downtown Danville, Plaid Elephant Books is just one example. The children’s bookstore was Kate Snyder’s novel idea turned pandemic project. The mom of three opened the small business in August 2021. She says the store’s name was inspired by her grandfather, who grew up in India and later shared stories with his family about the elephants he encountered. As for the plaid? Snyder says her family simply loves plaid.
That passion transferred over to her first business venture as well.
“When I told people I was going to open a children's bookstore, there's this range of reactions right?” she told LEX 18. “There's people who say, ‘But people don’t read books anymore,’ or ‘People buy everything online!’”
Despite what people may assume about the future of hard copy books, local booksellers like Plaid Elephant Books are thriving. For many customers, a store offers what a website can’t.
“We didn't have anything like this in Danville,” said Kathy York, a retired librarian who helps out at the store. “People come in all the time looking for new books, looking for classics they read when they were children.”
According to the New York Times, more than 300 small bookstores have opened up nationwide in the past few years, despite dismal projections at the beginning of the pandemic. The newspaper reports hundreds more are set to open soon.
It’s a plot twist that’s making Snyder proud.
“You've got lots of independent bookstores that are opening, particularly in a lot of these smaller communities where people need books and don't necessarily have access to them,” she said. “When kids come in here, and their eyes light up, and they're so excited, or when parents bring a kid back, and tell me, ‘Every morning this week she's been asking when do we get to go to the bookstore,’ there's nothing like that.”
Plaid Elephant Books is celebrating its first birthday on August 6th with a party at the store, located at 116 N. 3rd Street.
You can find more information about upcoming events on the store’s Facebook page.