Hi guys, welcome to Book Munchies’ Musing about Things: A Discussion (Post). Inspired by memes such as Should Be Reading‘s Musing Monday & Caffeinated Book Reviewer‘s Caffeinated Confessions (etc.), this is a Book Munchies discussion post, where I’ll be rambling about (mostly) book-related things and hopefully you guys will join in on the fun too! Kim again this week! 😉
Bookstores! The place where books reside until readers come to purchase them! Or at least that’s what it used to be. I’m an employee of Barnes and Noble and I used to work at Borders before it closed. I’m a great lover of books and back when I first entered the book selling business, my wide-eyed naivety believed that it would be a great place to work; everyone who enters a bookstore is looking for something amazing and loves books just as much as me. Obviously, that’s not true.
Bookstores are a dying breed.
Bookstores are suffering. The rapidly advancing technology of this age is making people question the necessity of bookstores. Working at the customer service desk, I have gotten multiple questions about when the store is going to close or if bookstores are still necessary. It’s always hard to answer, because I think bookstores are still important. There’s something amazing about being able to pick up the book and browse in a place where the books are the main attraction. However, I understand where the customers are coming from. I think that the advent of the e-reader and the continuously growing market plays a big part in this perception as well.
Amazon, the devil in disguise?
There are a couple main aspects of Amazon’s business that have contributed to that perception. Kindle first hit the scene in 2007. (There were other e-reading devices on the market, but nothing that was mainstream or could beat out peoples’ preference for books.) With Kindle, suddenly e-reading devices were an excellent alternative, and not just for those crazy people in a budding field no one trusted yet. Then ebooks are cheaper and easier to get than a physical book from a bookstore; one click and there it is on your device. Added to that, Amazon always tries to have the best deals on the items on its website, including the physical books. Even adding in the cost of shipping, sometimes it is cheaper to buy from them than it is to buy in stores.
Bookstores of the 21st century.
Nonetheless, I don’t think that bookstores are purposeless in today’s society. I have all this nostalgia for bookstores. I love to hang out in them, enjoy browsing the books in person, and perhaps be able to go to an author signing or two. What is important about bookstores today, whether it’s a chain like B&N or an indie bookstore, is how they deliver that service. It’s about being that warm, friendly atmosphere. And it’s also about catering to the clientele of today. When people opt to go to a bookstore versus just buying online they’re inevitably paying a little extra for that superb customer service, that excellent knowledge base that shows you are passionate about the books, and that tactile, human experience that Amazon just can’t replace.
Another thing they can’t replicate is that amazing opportunity for a book signing or event. Sure, there are always other venues to hold them. But of the events I’ve gone to, my favorite have been in bookstores. There’s this amazing tension and excitement that can’t be replaced. Plus, it’s a mutually beneficial situation for both bookseller and author since the author is able to promote their work and the bookseller is able to sell some books.
So what does that mean for us? Bookstores have it rough… But it’s not impossible! Though, there’s so much more going on today (sports, reality tv, everyday life), books can be such an important and amazing pastime. It’s always amazing to hear people say, “oh books are a dying commodity, everyone has an e-reader now” because it’s simply not true. So often I see all those people reading physical books on their commutes to and from work. And for those big book lovers like myself, just because you have an e-reader (and no space for new books), I can’t stop myself from adding new amazing titles to my collection. In the end, I lost my point. Yay books and bookstores!
Everything can be made better with a good book or some relaxing knits. 😀 Find me on IG @kimberlyh12 or on Twitter @enervated.