Readers Hope
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Readers Hope

How To Reinvent The Bookstores

The internet changed how books are sold forever. But a brick-and-mortar bookstore still has something the virtual shop doesn’t.

Photo by Jeison Higuita on Unsplash

Bookstores are among my favorite places to be. I like the ones with a good chair for reading. If there is a coffee shop inside, even better. I can spend hours and more hours in it.

I walk alongside the corridors, scanning the different books. I get the ones that arouse my curiosity. I examine its cover, back, title, subtitle, author, and table of contents. Then I smell the book. How I love the smell of books! Even the new ones.

I select a few of them and sit for a reading test drive. The ones I enjoy the most I separate to buy. Then comes the problem: books are much cheaper on the internet. With the same money, I could buy that other book I also liked. What a dilemma.

While I’m checking the price on Amazon, I can’t avoid seeing the price for Kindle. Even cheaper. And I can start reading right away too.

That’s what I like in my Kindle. It’s convenient, it’s cheaper, it’s faster, the battery is great, the screen is great for reading, and I can bring tens of books with me. But it doesn’t come with that smell.

I get that the book’s market has changed. That e-books are getting more and more popular. That e-commerce is cheaper. That the pandemic caused a book shortage. But I’ll miss the real thing.

I’ll miss going to brick-and-mortar bookstores full of paper-and-ink books. But there is a way for them to survive.

Many retail bookstores started to sell other products like stationery and office supplies. But if the books are not profitable, then the other products would become their main business. They would need to give less and less space for books. Would hardly see a large bookstore with thousands of books to explore with hands, eyes, and noses.

What if bookstores made a partnership with e-commerce sites? Can they let customers buy online from their partner and take away the physical book from their shop? The website could pay a commission that includes the cost they would have with the delivery.

Amazon itself is doing this since 2015 when it opened its first Amazon Books store.

The marketplace could get together in partnerships between retail bookstores and e-commerce websites. This way, e-commerce doesn’t even need to have a stock of books. Every sale made via the website could go to the closest bookstore to the customer. Independent delivery service would pick it up at the shop to deliver to the customer within an hour or less.

I’m also in favor of large bookstores with a section for second-hand books. Somewhere I could go with my used books that I’d like to exchange for others of my interest. Of course, this is a different market and business model. A specialist should be available to check each book’s conditions and set a price for them. But it would be great to have this option at the same place as the retail bookstore.

Talking about different sections in the same large bookstore, there are more opportunities. Besides the second-hand books, office supplies, and the coffee shop, other business models could be added: a coworking space; a space for small events like workshops, exhibitions, and autographs; or even a reading/writing club.

If you own a retail bookstore, I beg you: please don’t let it die! The internet changed how books are sold forever. There is no coming back from that. But a brick-and-mortar bookstore still has something the virtual shop doesn’t: a real place to gather real people. Use that.

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