Why We Need Bookstores

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For a while, I’ve come across several online articles and even heard from others around me that bookstores will soon be a thing of the past. Bookstores, such as Barnes & Noble, Half Price Books (which are practically the only chain bookstore xt s in my area), and especially mom and pop bookstore.

What encouraged me to write a blog post about this matter was over a MSN article I read a year ago, which discussed a number of industries/businesses that would be extinct within the next 10 years. Bookstores was among those that were selected as a business that would likely convert entirely to an online business or go extinct (much like what Blockbuster movies did when Netflix and Redbox came into the picture). Barnes & Noble was specifically the focus. I couldn’t locate the original article I read from last year, but I found another article (also from last year) that talks about Barnes & Noble specifically and little bit on this topic:

What’s Future Of Barnes & Noble after CEO Exit?

I was saddened and even scared to hear this because I actually believe it can happen. When I was a child, even a teen, there were many chain bookstores as well as mom and pop bookstores in my area, such as Borders, B Dalton, and Waldenbooks. They were abundant and all around. Now there are only a few bookstores I see and besides Barnes & Noble (B & N), they are scarce. To hear that bookstores are at risk for extinction,–what will the world be like with no bookstores around? Yes, there is always the library, but it’s just not the same.

What I’m trying to say is, We Need Bookstores! Actual bookstores where we can walk into. Below, I plead my case with 3 reasons why actual bookstores need to be around…

  • ENVIRONMENT

One thing that gives me hope that bookstores will not entirely go out of extinction is how busy they are when I visit them (I guess I should say the ones within my reach). Whenever I go to B &N or Half Priced Books, I see people everywhere. Some are actually buying books and gifts, some are reading, and some are even there to study or chat with friends. It is full of life.

For me, I like being in a bookstore. As a writer, I find myself inspired to be where I’m surrounded by something I love, which are stories, creativity, and words. When I’m in a bookstore, ideas of what I want to write about come to mind. It’s kind of similar to being in a park, beach, or coffee shop—it offers an atmosphere that frees the spirit and mind, and calms the soul. This all may sound funny, but it’s true for me. And I believe it is true for many others who go to bookstores to read freely or spend their day there.

  • DISCOVERY

Bookstores are probably the only place (or one of the very few) where people can go to utilize products without necessarily buying them. At a bookstore, people can discover new books and magazines on a whim and read them to their entirety if they wish. Sometimes its nice to have the option to see a book or magazine in person for yourself versus only having the option of viewing it online which has its own restrictions, such as there may not be reviews available or reviews that can help one decide if they want to purchase the book; the previews (if present) may be limited to a certain number of pages so one may not be able to read as much as they want in order to know if they like the book; and if one wants to purchase a physical book, they have to wait a while for it to arrive.

  • PRODUCT

This may not be a big issue in the world of books compared to other products, but one downside of not having bookstores is you cannot choose your product and therefore can be subject to receiving the wrong product or damaged product. In the past, I have received books that were tattered and bent. Although for me, this was not a big deal and I chose to keep the books as they were instead of exchanging them, it still illustrates how one may not always get what they expect when they cannot choose the item for themselves in person. Of course, all this is not an issue if one is purchasing digital items, such as an eBook. In addition to this, there are many finds and small nic nacs that can be found in a bookstore and although these things and more can be found online, it’s not always the same. One cannot examine, hold, and test these products and decide if it’s worth buying.

 

I am not discounting online stores or online shopping. As a writer, the online market as been a blessing and is very much needed especially in the business of writing. Writers need the online market to reach more people and there are many who prefer online shopping to in store shopping.

But what I am trying to say is we need options. We need bookstores as well. To me, there are not like many stores. A bookstore is where one can get lost in imagination and discover new worlds, find inspiration and creativity, find what they are looking for, and so much more. So I advocate that bookstores don’t go extinct and just maybe out of all the retail industries that have struggled or vanished, this one will last.

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14 thoughts on “Why We Need Bookstores

  1. I love this! I go to Barnes and Noble to buy a cup of coffee and write. Before I had kids, I spent hours there sitting and reading and sipping on coffee. I couldn’t imagine where I would go to let my creative outlet out without a bookstore! I can smell it now!

    1. I agree! Bookstores are the one place where I can find inspiration and creativity. I know in college I spent many days at B &N to study. Thanks for your comment!!!

  2. Hello! I so agree with this post and it’s a great one by the way. Where would we be without bookstores? People should have options. I enjoy both the library and a bookstore as they both provide a completely different experience. But I do enjoy having a choice. For instance,many people enjoy reading books on “Kindle” and so on, and I’m sure that’s very convenient. But I personally, prefer to hold a book in my hand and actually get the experience of turning the pages. This is how I was first bitten by the ‘reading’ bug as a young girl. I loved to pick out books and often did so according to how the cover attracted me. But all in all, I hope that bookstores will always be around for those of us who like to keep our options open! Thanks for sharing this! 🙂

    1. Thanks sporterhall for your comment! I too have great memories of discovering books as a child that hold great nostalgia for me. I think options are important and I have always read paper books and do not own a Kindle or Nook. It is only recently that I have been reading stories through my computer, but I still prefer a paper book. I feel bookstores make it easier to discover books with the added freedom of reading as much as you like beforehand.

      1. You’re welcome and I agree with you on so many levels. I too do not own a Kindle or a Nook and frankly, have not really been very inspired enough to purchase either. As a matter of fact, I just paid a visit to one of our local libraries for my dose of hardback awesomeness! However, I do read here and there online but that is about as far as I go. I prefer and enjoy the ‘tangible’ experience! Happy reading & writing! 🙂

    1. I believe so to. B & N is practically the only large bookseller left and they have a lot of competition from online booksellers–Amazon being a major one. Although I have bought books from them in the past, I don’t know if there are a lot of people buying books in store from them–they may be there just to spend time, which is what I have done lately. I guess we should enjoy the bookstores we have now while they last 🙂 Thanks for your input!

  3. As much as I LOVE my Kindle, there is something about a bookstore. there is a small, privately owned one w/in a few miles. Been in business for years. There is always a cat or two in the window – napping or watching the outside world and ready to receive your pats, strokes, and teases. The smell of the store is combination of good coffee, old books with a slight smell of cinnamon, and fresh air blowing in as folks come in and out. People will be sitting on the floor down one of the aisles, reading or in chairs at the back. Spontaneous conversation, advice about good reads, folks studying, people just sitting with their cup of coffee (honor system, pour a cup and put 50 cents into a box) and watching other people. it is small and close but not claustrophobic. My Kindle cannot replace any of this. I’ve bought used books, out of print books, antique books here. Prowling through the aisles searching for treasures is something that cannot be replaced or repeated. I will always have my feet in both worlds as long as bookstores stay open. I’m not always fond of the large chain stores in spite of the people there and their activities. But I am always happy at the cats’ bookstore and when I am on my kindle.

    1. I love how you described the feel of a bookstore. The smaller mom and pop bookstores are the best when it comes to camaraderie, community, and feeling like you’re at home. I believe we need more places like this 🙂

      1. So do I. it is a great place to be with people or to be alone and never feel lonely. I’ve often thought how wonderful it would be to have such a shop and to spend time in it, getting to know people. The owner knows everyone after a couple of visits. when he sees me come in, he’ll let me know if there are “new” out of print, antique, certain author books on the shelf and asks what did I think about such and such or did I ever read……? The chain stores leave me cold – almost like a contrived sort of community rather than the small, years old community that comes about in a small shop. but that is just me. I don’t like chain restaurants either! 🙂

      2. You mention a good point. I think if large chain bookstores were more personal and not all about making sales, maybe they would be more successful. I would love bookstores even more if they ran more like a community, such as what you just described!

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