A Local Literary Gem Earns National Accolades

Publishers Weekly names Gibson’s Bookstore in Concord one of the country’s best
Photo of Gibson's Bookstore by Casey McDermott

Four years ago, Gibson’s Bookstore owner Michael Herrmann saw the foreboding headlines about the rise of e-reading and the potential threat this new medium posed to the future of brick-and-mortar booksellers like his — and took a bet in the other direction.

It seems to have paid off.

With Borders, the late big-box bookseller, on its way out of town and more than 10,000 square feet of retail space opening up in the middle of Concord, Herrmann saw an opportunity to fully transform Gibson’s into “the bookstore of [his] dreams.”

“We tripled in size and made a huge investment in the community — and in our readers,” Herrmann recalls. “We’re still here, and we’re growing, and apparently it seems to be working out. It’s still not an easy business to be in, but what I think has set us apart is just the huge leap that we made back in 2013.”

Not only is Gibson’s a bustling haven for local bookworms, it’s also catching the attention of those in the national bookselling world. it recently nabbed a coveted spot on the shortlist for the Publishers Weekly 2018 Bookstore of the Year. The winner is expected to be announced sometime in March.

“Many have deep roots in a specific region, but they have also had a big impact on the book industry well beyond those borders,” said Cevin Bryerman, executive v-p and publisher, in a note announcing this year’s group. “Each has found creative solutions to making bookstores meaningful in a changing world.”

For Herrmann, the honor was “an unexpected pleasure” — given the sheer number of bookstores nationwide — but a welcome affirmation nonetheless. And it’s made him more confident than ever about the role bookstores like his can play even in an age where they’re vying against e-books, audiobooks and online marketplaces for customers’ loyalty.

“A lot of brick-and-mortar stores are under tremendous pressure, and bookstores are no different,” Herrmann says, “but there’s also a countervailing trend toward localism and toward authentic experience and community and community values.”

Bookstores, he says, are uniquely situated to fill that niche. At Gibson’s, it means being known not only as a place to peruse bestsellers, but also to meet local authors, to find carefully curated book reviews from store employees or to steal away a few spare moments on your lunch break.

“People need authentic experiences,” Herrmann says. “They need places to go. They need ways to communicate with other people and gather, and bookstores are a great place for that.”

To size up the authenticity of Gibson’s yourself, visit at 45 South Main St. in Concord.

Gibson’s Competition
The Concord bookseller is vying for this national honor alongside peers large, small, old and new — a group chosen to “represent the diversity of independent bookselling,” per Publishers Weekly.

  • Astoria Bookshop, Queens, New York
  • Boulder Bookstore, Boulder, Colorado
  • Source Booksellers, Detroit, Michigan
  • University Book Store, Seattle, Washington
Categories: Features