With the growth of e-books, the demise of Borders and the shrinking of Barnes & Noble, some thought the bookstore was on its way out. Personally, I disagreed with that sentiment: Anything that skyrockets so fast (e-books) can only come down, the big chains had over-saturated with too many (and too big) stores, and no matter how good on-line shopping becomes, one can still peruse far more books, faster, in person. Sure, I like the best of both worlds, and considering Amazon is opening brick and mortar stores, they get it too.
Lev Grossman wrote “The Death of the Bookstore Was Greatly Exaggerated” in the June 30th issue of Time on the growth of independent bookstores and their sales, at the same time big chains continue to contract. He mentions this revival of indies is in part due to “…new technology [that] makes things like accounting and inventory management easier for small stores. The growth of social media makes it easier to promote events. The demise of the Borders chain in 2011 had the effect, in some markets, of taking competitive pressure off indies.”
Another major part of this growth, I think, is that book buyers have always supported bookstores and the market has never shrunk quite as much as claimed. Borders didn’t simply fail because no one was buying books, they failed more from a poor business model. Barnes & Noble should survive — and I hope they do — if they continue to return to their roots. In other words, they need to be their neighborhood bookstore, not seen as just a big chain.
Authors aren’t overly concerned on how you read their book, on paper or on a screen, but we may have now reached a balance in the market of options. However, Grossman says it best when it comes to the old-school way:
… the paper book – a piece of information technology that has, after all, been tested and honed over the past 2,000 years – has declined to give way that easily.