If you walk into your local bookstore, chances are the experience is much different than what you would have seen a decade ago. While bookstores traditionally have been a place to buy books and only books, in recent years, the inventory—and therefore the reason many people go to bookstores—has changed. Nowadays, bookstores offer newspapers, magazines, calendars, greeting cards, games, CDs, gift cards, craft kits, treats and coffee in addition to—or even outnumbering—the books for sale.
Consequently not only do people have different reasons to visit a bookstore but also the clientele has changed—from strictly readers and shoppers of books to a variety of consumers including business people who schedule their meetings in the coffee shops found within the stores.
Then, there are the bookstore patrons who pull a book off a shelf, have a seat with their coffee, and read the book for twenty minutes, possibly even on their lunch break, before putting it back on the shelf—but that’s a topic for another blog, at another time.
Many customers may like this broader definition of a bookstore, but others long for the good old-fashioned bookstore that sells only books and has a large inventory.
Bookstores have become a tragic story in the last five years and are still a hot topic feeding blogs, magazines and even the news. And why? Research shows that more and more bookstores are closing—evident in the fact that Borders, a well-known international book retailer that rivaled Barnes & Noble, closed its doors in 2011. It’s impossible to estimate how many local mom-and-pop bookstores have closed since that time, as well.
The reasons are clear. Between e-books and online purchasing, it’s fair to say that most book sales happen over the Internet. But does it really offer what a bookstore does? Can it offer you that something special about walking into a bookstore, wandering down the aisles, and being open to the possibility of anything that catches your attention—not specifically using the search bar function to find exactly what you want?
Maybe that’s why the last remaining major bookstores like Barnes & Noble have turned to a wider variety of inventory—such as the CDs, movies, and magazines—in order to keep their doors open.
Perhaps it’s a good thing that they’re even still able to stay in business. Imagine a world without local bookstores—you’d have to make all of your book purchases online.
From time to time, I have to remind myself that despite walking into a bookstore and not getting that traditional experience I’d like, it is better than not having a local bookstore at all.
Keep bookstores alive—buy your next book in a bookstore.