There’s nothing like walking into a bookstore. The hushed voices, the smell of paper and ink tingeing the air. I love bookstores; all of them. I’m not too particular about whether it’s a chain or a local operation. To me, all bookstores are like a sanctuary.
I just finished reading the article “End of Days for Bookstores? Not if They Can Help it”. The article stressed the importance of bookstores, both local and chains, evolving in the new reader marketplace. I think it is very important for bookstores to acknowledge the changes and find ways to work with them, not fight against them. Apparently Google Books is working on allowing local bookstores to be able to sell e-books on their site. This is a step in the right direction, I think. By joining the e-reader market, local bookstores will be able to further their survival.
Now, I’m not an e-book reader. I’m way too attached to the feeling of turning actual paper pages, the smell of a new book, and the weight of it in my hands, to give in to an e-reader. But this isn’t to say they don’t have their place. Many people I know are crazy about their e-readers, and that’s just fine by me. I figure, as long as their reading, who cares what the format is?
But of course, the bookstores care. According to Len Riggio, the CEO of Barnes & Noble, “book sales have declined for everyone…because who categories like reference books and travel books are no longer needed, now that such information is available for free on the Internet”. And how true that statement is. It’s often much easier to log on to the Internet and find the information your seeking right then. It’s instant gratification of knowledge. I know whenever I have to write a research paper for class, I hardly ever crack the pages of an actual book because it’s so much easier and quicker to just look it up on-line.
But schoolwork is different than reading for pleasure. When it comes to reading what I want in my spare time, I always reach for an actual book. I want to have my own extensive library someday, so I am always buying books. I most often buy them from Barnes & Noble, but that’s because they have a wider selection of the books I like to read than my local bookstore. Sure I usually feel a twinge of guilt whenever I walk in the doors, but it’s not enough to dissuade me from making a purchase. Additionally, at Barnes & Nobel, I can get both the novels I want to read, as well as the magna I’m interested in, all in one go. Not so at the local store. When I shop local, I have to go to the “regular” bookstore as well as the comic book shop. Sure, it may not seem like such a big deal to have to go to two stores, but I suppose it all goes back to that whole instant gratification thing. I can get what I want, when I want it.
All that being said, I guess the most important thing is that I’m still buying paper and ink books. I’m doing my part to keep the wheels of the traditional bookstore moving. And the traditional bookstores are finding ways to reach out to new customers, which further helps to keep them in business. And as long as they are in business, there will be people reading, which is all I care about.