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:
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…
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.
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.
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.