Before I begin this article, let me address two important facts:
First of all, I must admit that I’m often a huge hypocrite when it comes to this subject. I’m an avid reader, and I order the bulk of my weekly novels online or via my Amazon Kindle. Like most people, I would prefer to visit a Barnes and Noble or local bookshop instead, but financial and time constraints often make online shopping a more feasible option. However, this article is not about my personal shortcomings as a supporter of the written word. Instead, I hope to convince you that perhaps, at least every once in awhile, we should all be setting foot in a real bookstore, not just clicking “add to cart” every time a new book catches our eye.
Secondly, despite the ridiculous perception that tangible books are becoming obsolete, it is important to realize that book sales are in no way disappearing from our economy. In fact, many statisticians predict that literary sales across the world are going to increase in the coming years. Book sales are not dying: they’re changing. Services like Amazon and The Book Depository have made online sales more enticing to readers, and that’s fantastic. Any service that keeps reading alive in the public is a friend of mine.
Having said that, there are certain features of bookstores that are lost when one limits their shopping solely to online retailers.
Perhaps part of the reason you enjoy online shopping is that you can do it in your ugliest sweatpants from home without having to smile and chat with a sales assistant. If, however, you are not completely opposed to interacting with others, bookstores can offer a nice personal connection. I’ve always enjoyed wandering around bookstores and seeing what novels the employees recommend. These people work with thousands of books each month, so it seems sensible to assume they can make some fairly accurate recommendations. Plus, I love discussing my favorite reads with others, and bookstores provide an awesome way to do that. Go ahead, be that annoying person who encourages a fellow shopper to try that Meg Cabot book or look up A Court of Thorns and Roses when they get a chance.
No matter how involved you are in the publishing world, you will always be able to find a new, interesting read if you head to a bookstore. I’ve been monitoring the publication of young adult novels for more than ten years, and I’m still continuously surprised by the abundance of covers I’ve never seen in bookstores. Sure, you can use Amazon or Goodreads to research new releases, but those will often be the titles most anticipated by active site users. To find hidden gems, you’ve really got to browse the shelves in person without the limitations of online lists.
The Children’s Section
Fostering of a love literature in children is monumentally important, but sometimes it can be extremely difficult. Many kids are reluctant readers, and getting them to even pick up a book can be a parenting struggle you wish to avoid. What’s lovely about bookstores is that they allow young readers to browse interesting titles in person. Simply let them wander around the children’s section for a little while and touch the different novels there. Chances are, your young one will be a lot more likely to read a novel he/she tangibly picked out than one you ordered online.
Almost every author event I’ve ever attended has been hosted by a bookstore. If you’re dying to meet your favorite author or to hear them speak, chances are, you’re going to have to keep up with the upcoming events at your local bookstores. Stop by and see if anyone interesting is coming by in the near future.
By all means, continue ordering from online sources. I'm sure I'll order another novel on Amazon within the next few days. Still, don't forget about the value physical bookstores bring to the world of literature, and maybe once in a while, consider showing your appreciation for them.