McIntyre's Books in Pittsboro, N.C., has been in business for 25 years. During that time, Keebe Fitch, daughter of the founders, said the shop has seen its share of ups and downs.
"We had double-digit growth in book sales for years until a Barnes and Noble opened on a highway near us around 1991, and then it all came crashing down," said Fitch, who sold real estate for a while before returning to the store as its manager.
"But we've buckled down and have been able to hold on for the long haul," said Fitch, who has a five-person staff. "Our gross sales are up 14 percent so far this year and were up 13 percent in 2011. We've learned how to change and get stronger."
Fitch and her store—located in the planned community of Fearrington Village near Chapel Hill, the campus of the University of North Carolina—are part of a small but growing resurgence of independent bookstores in the U.S.
"Sales from independent bookstores in 2012 were up eight percent over 2011," said Dan Cullen a spokesman for the American Booksellers Association, a nonprofit trade group of independent bookstores.
"We've got people opening new bookstores and people buying into existing ones," he said. Talk of the death of independent bookstores "as a result of the big-box stores was premature at best," he added.