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Back to the Future?

Retail industry insiders are noticing an unexpected shift: smaller, independent booksellers have begun to prosper now that the big-box operators are struggling. An article in Fortune makes the case that some of the Waldenbooks spaces could be backfilled by the independents.

The mom-and-pop operators would also make a good fit for college campus Borders, helping both bridge the gap in bricks-and-mortar bookselling and provide laid off Borders staffers with potential new jobs.

In fact, we hear that independent booksellers do seem to be making a comeback. Booksellers now frequently become "incubator" tenants at malls and shopping centers, according to executives with Levin Management Corp., a third party property management provider. And because of their smaller inventory and often niche offering, they are able to find more success with shoppers than the sprawling mega-boxes that can feel overwhelming, notes Jeff Green, a retail real estate consultant.

We'd be curious to know what the property owners and managers out there think. Are independent bookstores the way of the future?

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