Box Stores and the Internet Killing the Local Bookstores? Not So Fast.

There is good news today, and as soon as I saw the piece in The New York Times by Francis X. Clines, I knew I wanted to write a post about it. In the editorial notebook of the paper entitled Indie Bookstores Are Back, With a Passion, we read there is hope for smaller bookstores that offer a sense of community and social activity along with an extensive collection of books as a retailer. So the encouraging news is this: there is room for indie bookstores in a world of full of internet purchases and large retailers.

In 2008, sales of e-books skyrocketed and the publishing industry went into a bit of a panic as they wondered whether print books will survive or if they will go the way of CDs. However, over the last few years, publishers have seen sales level a bit. Readers have more choices now than ever before of how to read a book—they can purchase the hardback or paperback, download it from the internet to their Kindle, Nook, iPad or computer, or listen to it as an audio file or CD.

As someone who worked in the field of publishing for a baseball team whereby everything we produced at that time was in print, I admit to being a lover of the book or magazine made of paper. I like to hold books in my hand (although these days, I do “read” a lot of books on CD during my 45-minute commute to work each day). However, for me, nothing can replace a bound book and the ability to turn the pages, see the words in print, and yes, inhale the smell of a book. Some of you dedicated e-reader lovers will beg to differ, and that’s okay.

But what’s even more okay is the notion that bookstores are alive and well and are experiencing a comeback in our communities. As more and more people become less social as they stick their noses into their cellphones, it is hopeful to hear that communities are supporting their local bookstores in search of camaraderie and personal connection. Folks want to frequent a place that offers warmth, friendly interpersonal connections, a place to sit and chat or read over a cup of coffee, and even a venue to attend a book talk, poetry reading, or social event. And, most importantly, these bookstores offer a local place where customers can buy a book.

Book lovers should be thrilled this morning (as should authors and communication professionals!) that we are seeing a need for places that offer human interaction. Even I have romanticized about one day owning a charming bookstore. I can visualize it now—it would be dreamy with a vintage coffee bar, rows and rows of books from the floor to the ceiling, comfortable sofas and chairs, tables for discussions and work, and lots and lots of crystal chandeliers.

Indie bookstores offer so much; they are a celebration of creativity, a gathering place for people to talk and connect, a collection of knowledge waiting for you to open it, and a little place where imagination can soar. Welcoming these retailers into our neighborhoods should be something we do with open arms.

The word on the street is we are doing just that.

Yours truly promoting Beneath the Mimosa Tree at Maryland’s largest independent bookstore, Greetings and Readings in Hunt Valley.





One Comment

  • Anonymous

    Oh, I so agree that bookstores are vital to any community. A reader-friend of mine reminded me that she orders books on line from Barnes and Noble (rather than Amazon) so that they won’t go out of business and close more of their stores than they already have shut down. I’ll try and do the same. Mom

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