Arlington, VA

These are anxious times for independent booksellers. Having survived the emergence of e-tailers like Amazon.com, now small book stores are bracing for the impact of e-books on their business.

The American Booksellers Associations, which represents independent booksellers, held a four-day convention in Crystal City last week to network and discuss business strategies.

Among the activities was a field trip to Arlington’s Revolution Cycles.

NPR tagged along as Revolution Cycles CEO Mike Hammanwright shared words of wisdom on how to connect with customers.

Hammanwright said consumers are passionate about books in the same way they’re passionate about bicycles. To connect with those passionate consumers, you have to have a passionate (and well-trained) sales staff.

“If we’re listening and paying attention, and we hear what you’re looking for, then we can show you the products we have that we feel meet those needs,” Hammanwright said. “If a customer comes expecting that expertise, and you don’t deliver it, you’re going to do very poorly.”

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