Thursday, October 23, 2008

The Death of the Bookstore

With all the recent doom and gloom projections for the book industry - and specifically for print books in light of the success of e-readers like the Sony and Kindle - I've been prematurely pining for one of my favorite pasttimes. For years, I've enjoyed nothing more than a trip to the local mega bookstore for a cup of coffee and hours perusing the aisles. I might buy a book (in fact, I probably will buy a book, even if my TBR pile now requires its own permits from city hall), but it's possible I'll leave with empty hands and singing heart.

I will mourn the day I can no longer spend an hour in the bookstore. That said, I love the green aspects of ebooks, and I love the thought that I can have that collection of stories (or more) at my fingertips and can carry around an armload of books in a single 2-pound device.

When Borders began to stumble several months ago, this issue really started to hit home. But I also wondered what the other big stores would do.

This morning, I had an e-mail from Barnes & Noble touting their new Barnes & Noble Home. It looks like B&N has decided to expand its gift and tawdry bauble section into a whole home accessories collection. I'm intrigued, but I'm also sad that one day, half my bookstore will be overrun by lamps and paperweights.

But to consider a happier thought, perhaps this is the opportunity the small (non-chain) bookstores need to make their comeback. If I found one with a coffee bar, a sizeable and rotating selection of paper books and magazines, kiosks to peruse and perhaps sample the electronic editions of other books, cool music, friendly employees, and comfie chairs (with nearby electrical outlets, please), I wouldn't just shop there.

I'd live there.

How do you feel about the changing market? And do you fear for the career potential for authors, or do you think the e-book revolution will merely alter the way careers are born and maintained?

Viva la Revolución! ;)


Zoe Winters said...

I'm not really that big of a fan of bookstores. They're okay, but I buy most of my books online. Also I tend to be a "backporch swing" or "hot tub" reader, so the experience of sitting in a bookstore and reading isn't all that special to me.

Audra Harders said...

KL, Blogger has eaten my comments -- a couple of times. I had 5 paragraphs of *I'm with you on this*, but I'm not going to knock my head against a wall that swallows up posts : ) Great post!

Audra Harders said...

Blogger is acting really weird today

Donnell said...

KL, leave it to you to have such optimism for the return of the small book store. I suspect B&N and other book store chains like them are reading the writing on the wall. Maybe the entrepreneurial small book stores should take this as a hint. It's hard to settle down over a cup of coffee to read a lamp and a bauble :) Great post.

Ann said...

I pretty much agree with you, chicka, though I tend not to read in bookstores. I end up writing more than reading! (To the point where the barista at the cafe in my Borders commented on how cute my new haircut was... uh oh. I'm a regular!)

But if I had the option to go to a small bookstore, I would. In a heartbeat.