Musing About Things: Bookstores

musing-about-things-bookmunchies-v3

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! 😉

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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.

AT Finn cryingBookstores 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?

Emperor's New Groove Yzma MwahahaThere 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.

Kristen Bell WinkNonetheless, 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.

Conclusion

LOTR Sam confusedSo 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!

Author: Kim

Everything can be made better with a good book or some relaxing knits. 😀 Find me on IG @kimberlyh12 or on Twitter @enervated.

0 Comment

  1. I think it’s inevitable that bookstores are going to suffer from eReaders and eBooks, but the truth is they will never truly die out because there is a large portion of people who simply cannot replace physical books with their digital devices. I own 2 kindles and I still love my physical books, in fact I prefer it. If anything, text books and coffee table style books will definitely need to be in physical form. Great post!

    1. That’s a good point, I completely forgot about coffee table books and text books. I tried using a business math text book on Nook Study and it just wasn’t fun. Text books are so much easier to deal with as a physical book, even if they are a pain to lug around.

  2. Former Borders employee here–I still LOVE going to bookstores but even I am buying more and more books online these days. That’s partly because I’m a fan of buying used books in good condition when possible, and it’s just so easy to do so online now with sites like abebooks. However, I do still shop in brick and mortar bookstores, and there is ALWAYS going to be an audience for stores where you can actually browse and handle the books. And I agree that bookstores will always be a hub for events such as book groups and book signings.
    Nice post!

    1. With two other jobs, I could easily leave BN. However, I love the environment and the books so much. I mostly just buy the physical books for my favorite authors, and I prefer to go new for those. But I’m with you on getting good condition used books. 🙂

      I’m glad you agree! I think that no matter what happens with ebooks and the e-reading experience, there is definitely no substitute for the physical books and the experience of going to the store to browse.

      Thanks for stopping by!

  3. I love my kindle, but there is just something about having that physical book on your bookshelf. I think that online shopping has hindered book stores to an extent, but I think brick and mortar stores are doing better at competing with Amazon and the like.

    1. For sure! Even though I have no space, I keep buying more books whenever I feel I’d prefer the physical copy over the ebook. There’s a learning experience to be had for the brick and mortar stores. They’re definitely doing better, and giving it a good fight to stay relevant and hip to the times.

  4. I completely agree. It is a tough market for bookstores today.
    http://carabosseslibrary.blogspot.com/2014/03/musing-mondays_24.html

    1. Yeah. But I think with old fashioned hard work, proper marketing, and a good plan that involves the community, bookstores can make it work. 🙂

  5. There was actually a point when people scoffed at the Kindle and ebooks. Now those very people are surprised at how far they have come. I am sad to see bookstores close down but I don’t think they will ever die out completely. If they do disappear, I hope it isn’t in my lifetime. I still love my physical copies. I mean, how else can I show them off to people! And it’s easier to lend them out, not like ebooks, some which you can’t even let one person borrow.

    1. I was one of them. (I was also in high school and unable to purchase one if I wanted to; library books all the way!) I think, though, that ebooks and the like have also made it easy to bring back the relevance of reading as a pastime in today’s society. There are so many customers I have met who come back to browse or to get a coffee, and they got the reader as a spur of the moment decision or it was a gift but suddenly their reading had increased 10x more than before. It’s wonderful.

      Same here though. I don’t think they’ll ever close down completely. There are so many great indie bookstores doing their darnedest to survive, and making such a great go of it. They hold some of the best events, get involved in their community, and just ooze awesomeness.

      That’s why I love getting the physical books of my favorite authors. I love being able to lend them out to friends or family who would also be able to derive enjoyment from them. 🙂

      Thanks for stopping by!

  6. Team bookstores all the way. 😀 Not everyone has an e-reader, so people can’t really say books are a dying commodity. People aren’t going to the bookstore unless you sell the books like online prices, but of course that probably will not happen. Maybe I’m the black sheep in this, but I dislike buying books online because I hate seeing my books getting damaged when the arrived through the mail, but no choice because books online are definitely cheaper than if you buy them at the bookstore. And it sucks that there are less and less bookstores these days.

    1. Strangely it’s often at B&N that I get the most disparaging comments about bookstores and books. LOL. It’s so weird.

      I’m a big online shopper, but I can definitely understand where you’re coming from. If I’m spending the money on a book, I love the pristine feeling of a new one. There’s something almost religious about that new book in your hands and opening it to the first page for the first time. It’s wonderful. 🙂

      Yeah. But at the same time, there being less bookstores is kind of a call to arms for book lovers and all others to go buy books from bookstores. They exist to fulfill that need. But if people don’t use them for that, they are out of business. There are those who mooch and just read the books in the store without even considering the fact that they’re very likely damaging a book that someone else may have wanted to purchase.

  7. I do love walking around bookstores, and I do like supporting them. I have to admit though that I love my kindle. It has been a blessing with all of the moving I’ve been doing recently. Packing up my books is much easier.

    1. I’m glad to hear it! On both counts. I love my e-reader as much as the next person, and it definitely makes life easier at times. 🙂 But yeah, there’s something lovely about going to a bookstore and just perusing the stacks.

  8. I love wandering around bookstores too much to ever give it up. Plus I love owning physical copies of the ones I really love (and those with pretty covers aha). Though yeah, it’s a bit difficult buying straight from the bookstore, when it’s cheaper to buy online (even physical books)…though it’s still sorta supporting the bookstore right? Since I’m still getting a physical copy instead of just an ebook? IDK. Anyway, great discussion!

    PS. I love the Adventure Time .gif!!

    1. Me too! Sad thing is the one closest to me is the one I work at … So it makes it a little hard to browse. Yesssss. There’s just something awesome about owning the physical book that rocks. I think if we were to turn our book buying online tendencies towards bookstores websites where they do good online discounts vs Amazon that would help too? Maybe?

      Thanks! I was worried about it, especially towards the end. (If you couldn’t tell by how I ended it. LOL.)

      Haha, I couldn’t resist using it. 😀

  9. I don’t think that bookstores will die out, but personally it’s been years since I’ve visited a chain bookstore and bought something. I actually remember exactly when…it was the fall of 2009. Since then, I’ve mostly used Amazon or other online book retailers and used bookstores.

    The author events thing is a good point, though. While there are pretty much never any author events where I’m from, for the states/towns that do get a lot of author visitation, bookstores are an awesome place for it.

    And there’s definitely something about walking around a place filled with books and getting to pick some out to take home. That’s a special experience that I hope will never completely go away, but there is definitely a huge decline happening, and I don’t think we’ve seen the end of it, either. But that’s why I make a personal effort to go and visit used bookstores whenever I can! I want to support them so that they stay in business as long as possible.

  10. Great post! I love going to bookstores, both my local B&N and smaller indie stores- there’s just nothing quite like being surrounded by books. I can hang out there all day. 🙂 I just recently got my first e- reader ( a little behind the times) and while I will enjoy it, I don’t think I will ever tire of going to a physical bookstore. I know times are tough for them though… what’s really cool is when you see an indie bookstore making it, with all the competition they face.

  11. I’m another one who only recently got an e-reader beginning of this year, and yes, there is nothing like a real life book store browse. For me, I also like to sit with a coffee and a read, so any bookstore with a (even very small) coffee shop and the possibility of just sitting down and reading is a winner. I mean, even if I want to sit for 3 hours just reading and no one bothers you, that would be perfect. I still prefer a paperback despite e-readers.

  12. I saw this post & I had to comment! I also work at B&N part time. I don’t think I’ve ever had anyone come up and ask me if we were going to close. I’ve gotten TONS of complaints though that the B&N that was closer to their home closed and questions why that happened. I do think it’s true though. With the e-reader and Amazon, bookstores are really suffering. I know in my home state, there’s literally one B&N and not really any independent bookstores that I know of aside from genre specific books, like Hawaiian books or Christian books. So it’s a major problem! Wonderful discussion!

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