The Future for Bookshops
The future is small for bookstores - in a good way according to a report from NPR. The report believes that “the big chains are in trouble - and new technologies may provide independent bookstores with a lifeline.”
Emphasising the human elements of the bookshop including events and savvy staff, the interview with San Francisco store owner Elaine Petrocelli points out that many e-readers still don’t let you loan books. Petrocelli says, “I think that it’s possible that the Kindle could turn into the Betamax. That’s my nasty wish, because they won’t share with other people. You need to buy your book through Amazon in order to use your Kindle.” She believes small booksellers have a big future, “but we’re going to have keep growing and changing.”
Over at the Huffington Post, Peter Ginna isn’t so optimistic. He writes “like it or not, the market is going to see a steep falloff in brick-and-mortar retail and a corresponding downslope in the sale of printed books”. But he does see a future for “wonderful stores” who offer a better experience than clicking on a mouse. Specifically Ginna believes “Stores like these, creatively run, deeply connected to their clientele, carefully curated, and a pleasure to visit, can thrive just as other creative retailers do even under tough conditions.”
A new retailer striving to do just that is Second Edition, a cafe/bookshop set up by the Brotherhood of St Laurence. In the crowded secondhand book market, Second Edition hopes to distinguish itself through the ‘feelgood factor’ of supporting the Brotherhood’s fundraising while offering a comfortable place to browse serving Fairtrade coffee. There are some things e-books can’t do.
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