Imagine a world with no bookstores. Personally, I just won’t do it, because as a person who visits bookstores regularly, this one thought keeps running through my mind: bookstores are magical places. I feel great sadness when I read the ongoing predictions that the future of physical bookstores is doomed. Over the last few years there have been numerous studies dedicated to exploring people’s book buying and reading habits. Although people who use e-readers continue to multiply, there is still nothing that replicates the experience of holding and reading a real book. To me anyways.
With the recent release of my first published book “Confessions of a Middle-Aged Hippie”, my focus was to make sure print copies arrived in the world first. I see my tribe, my potential readers, as loving the idea of having a copy of my book in hand. Even as we received requests for review copies, it was interesting. Most requests preferred print versions to e-pub versions. That makes me happy.
Personally, I will order books online, however, I have very few e-books for my kindle for Mac reader and admitted several years ago in a feature article I wrote about this very topic, that I had only ever read one full book online. My status remains the same today. Virtual books do not feel real to me. Some habits die hard, I guess. Thank goodness.
Inquisitive me decided to question about two dozen people, all from different age groups and backgrounds, about their preferences when it comes to buying books. Categorically, everyone I asked, still wants real books and the opportunity to find those books in physical bookstores. People will order online if they don’t have the time to visit the bookstore or if the book isn’t in stock close by, but generally, real bookstore experiences are what the people I asked still prefer.
When I step into a bookstore, I’m transported to as many different worlds as I want to visit. Anything and everything is there within a few steps of where I enter. Turn left, I’m in the worlds of art and photography. Turn right, the worlds of travel or fitness or cooking. Walk straight, the worlds of sports or business. It is all there, calling to me to have an experience, an adventure. A researcher at heart, I’m always delighted to make mental notes of the variety of people I see every time I visit a bookstore. It doesn’t matter the time of day or even what day it is. People are browsing, having a tea or coffee and wandering or meeting with friends, checking out possibilities and making purchases.
I believe in bookstores, in the experience of being in a bookstore. I’ve even read that one of the possible threats to the future of bookstores is the diminished appetite for books. I believe I gasped in horror reading this. I’m back to being the little four-year-old girl reading to her kindergarten class and who, at this early age, developed a lifelong love of books. When I step into a bookstore, I’m the kid in the candy store, but it’s not candy I’m wanting to eat, but words and ideas I’m devouring, and can never seem to get enough of. The bookshelves are filled with possibilities and everywhere I turn, there is something new and intriguing and inviting, calling out to me. I simply cannot have this same experience online. So, yes, I will continue to buy books from bookstores and am committed to continue my love affair with physical books, refusing to imagine a future without bookstores to buy them in. I realize bookstores will have to change to meet the times, and I do know that change can be good. I leave you with this question — how do you envision bookstores of the future?
About the Author:
Beverley Golden is a writer, raconteur, song creator, health trailblazer, peacenik and self-professed guinea pig, who loves testing unconventional ways to shift paradigms in the playing fields of health care, storytelling and of course, world peace. A curious observer of human nature, she loves challenging complacency, stimulating ideas and inspiring conversations. Most recently, her writings can be found on the Huffington Post and Intent Blog, among others. Visit her site at www.beverleygolden.com