Where Have All The Bookstores Gone?
There was no greater thrill as a kid than heading out to the local bookstore and spending my hard-earned allowance on the latest books from my favorite series. The smell of the store, the feel of the books, and the thrill of heading home with new reading material all fed into the importance of the experience and it was unparalleled by most other things.
Very few kids these days will experience this type of joy as bookstores are few and far between anymore. There used to be a store in shopping centers, in almost every strip mall, and in some instances right on the corner in your hometown. Now, they’re hard to find and the majority of the independent stores have been shut down as the megastores have taken over.
An alarming happening seems to be going on as of late, however, as the bookstores around town are becoming fewer. Sure, Barnes and Noble are in the area, but that’s one of the only stores in a twenty-mile radius. What happened? There was a time when the local mall had two different bookstores in it, one at either end.
Well, let’s think about this a little, bookstores are disappearing because of the internet. Amazon offers books up to twenty percent less expensive than Barnes and Noble and we don’t even have to leave the comfort of our home to get them. Even if you’re a Barnes and Noble loyalist, their website ships books for next to nothing, if not entirely for free depending on the purchase amount.
But there is something magical about the humble bookstore that internet enthusiasts are missing out on. There was something thrilling about reaching out onto the shelves and feeling the different spines, seeing your favorite series in its entirety, and creating a never-ending wish list of books simply based on their cover art. Are we being robbed of experiences as the internet increases its stronghold on the retail community?
Everyone, even if you favor the internet, has to admit that there is a different feeling that you experience walking into an actual store. Perhaps it’s all of the different textures or seeing what you want to buy up close and personal. There’s no risk of getting the item and wondering what you saw in the photograph online. Buying a book isn’t supposed to be a sterile and faceless experience, and the internet is making it so.
The E-Reader Phenomenon
Another reason for the rapidly decreasing appearance of bookstores is that many people, myself included, are plugged into the electronic version of books. Instantly delivered and ready to read in about a minute, ebooks are the newer alternative to print. It’s instant gratification for book lovers. See a book, download it, and instantly you’re able to read it.
There are definite advantages to e-books as they take up far less space and they’re easier to take on vacation, but does anyone else miss the feeling of flipping the page? You can increase or decrease the print size and you can instantly look up a word you don’t understand. However, there is something missing from the encounter. Is anyone else out there wishing that their e-reader could dispense the scent of a brand new book as they read?
As a kid, the bookstore was second only to the library. As a bibliophile, the idea of walking into a building and leaving with free books was enthralling, but these institutions are becoming fewer and fewer as well. As the retailers and suppliers of books are dwindling, one has to ask, will all of the books soon be gone as well?