Whither the Bookstore?

Whither the Bookstore?

bn_logo2Following up on John’s post (and subsequent discussion) concerning the predicament of Barnes and Noble, which seems to be getting a taste of its own medicine as e-books and online book buying may relegate the superstore concept as nostalgic as the local independent book dealer, is this article from The New York Times. What’s interesting is the prediction that despite the growing acceptance of reading on handheld screens and website ordering, surviving independent stores may still flourish because of their personalized service to niche customers.

thin21Makes sense. Every time I go into an independent bookstore, I feel compelled to buy something even if I already have to many books I haven’t read yet, much less that I could get the book cheaper online (or even at Barnes and Noble). One reason I like to support these guys is that there’s something very attractive about “non-chain store” shopping, where owners have put their own individual stamp on the presentation and perusal of their wares.

True, they may not be as deep stocked as B&N (or at least used to be).  But, funny how the books they do carry in the fiction section are almost exactly the kinds of things I’m interested in.

To give B&N its due, though, I always thought it conveyed more a sense of a traditional bookshop than its much more troubled competitor, Borders. (Gone into one lately?  It’s like Waldenbooks on steroids, meaning appealing to the lowest common denominator is even more depressing when it’s bloated with stationary and puzzles).  And the people who worked there do seem to be knowledgeable and enthusiastic about books, unlike some of the clueless clerks you might find in a mall record store (do they still have those?).

As for what will happen to the physical book once we’re all reading on our Kindles or iPads or inner eyelid digital display inlays, check out this article by Rob Walker, also from theTimes.  I particularly like the idea of using an old discarded book to house your Kindle. And that someone could actually sell it for $25.

See, all those books bending your bookshelves do have some future value.  Get ’em while you can.

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i don’t have any locally owned books stores except for one small used book store…i love going in there you never know what you’ll find.

Don’t feel bad, i’m always buying books and i have a huge backlist to read on my shelf.

Barbara Barrett

I checked with my B&N store in Stockton California a couple of days ago and according to the staff there, B&N is NOT closing down. They are now selling stock in the bookstore in order to bring up the stock price. As a matter of fact, my B&N store was expanding some of its sections. I’m very relieved to hear this because B&N is a place where a lot of people not only buy books, they *hang out* and fill the numerous tables and chairs that exist throughout the store.


There never were any used bookstores where I live, aside from one called Kenmark Books where I always picked up the latest Goosebumps. The thrift shops have tons of books, but are all Tom Clancy, which I don’t read. A small general store had a copy of Silence of the Lambs with praise by Roald Dahl, which I was quick to buy for a dollar. 🙂
Borders is my favorite store in the mall after GameStop, and the only problem I have is that people scream and use the aisles to discuss topics unrelated to books. But Borders Bucks saves money and it is a great charity they have to donate books to kids.
I don’t know if lowest-common denominator is the right word, because although a lot of people probably buy books to show off, my mall’s Borders does have a wide-enough variety to please everyone.


The internet seems to be full of the idea that an electronic format for books is going to kill off regular, physical books, and it seems to be circling around largely unchallenged. Well, it’s time to change that. We’ve had electronic books for literally decades. All that’s new is there are some electronic devices for reading these formats on the market – and to be fair, even this is not new, as we’ve been able to read books on electronic devices for years. Various suffice problems have kept the masses from adapting them (who wants to look at a screen, battery life, price point) and so it is generally assumed that if these problems are fixed, then it will become a killer product. I’m sure you can see that does not make it so. In fact, as one who has tried reading electronic books in the past, with various degrees of success, I can attest to the superiority of the regular book for reading for hours on end. No battery to contend with, no fighting with electronic formats, screen size, document formatting or heat to worry about. Ten years from now, when the hype has worn itself out and the practical reality of electronic books overcomes the initial euphoria, we’ll see that books have survived very well actually and the electronic formats are in danger of becoming niche.

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