As a writer – albeit an indie ebook writer – I’m saddened and frustrated when I hear of bookstores closing as a result of the ebook revolution.
I understand the situation in which many find themselves. Ebooks have created an in-home convenience with which the family corner bookstore cannot compete unless they are part of a major chain with a humming website. Ebooks have sunk prices and therefore profits to literally zero. The beautiful bookstore displays have out-priced themselves and fallen out of favor with a greening earth. Not to mention the fast-finger mobile generation who may have not graced the inside of a bookstore for some years. So doors will close.
But for me, bookstores have always been a kind of home from home, like inspecting someone else’s private bookcase when you visit them. A bookstore isn’t like a regular shop. A bookstore engages and intrigues. It cunningly leads you from shelf to shelf where you are able to open product after product, flip peacefully through content, and travel unhindered through the creative map of other minds. A hundred books, a thousand thoughts, a million imagined pictures. What other shopping experience gives you that? And I DON’T think that thumbnail pictures and a squad of bleeping adverts on a screen is anywhere near the same thing! When visiting a bookstore, you can scan across a multitude of offerings, all clearly marked under genre. YOU CAN FIND THINGS! You are able to browse quietly and happily for hours. There’s a sense of fellowship with other browsers. A human connection.
I hope we can find ways to keep this experience going. Perhaps we could introduce promotional cards for ebooks in CD type covers that we can browse in a shop; facilities to allow shoppers to either digitally purchase ebooks while in-store or order POD (Print on Demand) copies; screening of book trailers; the promotion and sale of e-readers and other useful geeky gadgets for readers; a reference section; guest speakers on writing, reading, publishing; children’s days; places for Indie authors to display print books; advertising and conducting courses on writing and publishing; literary quizzes; competitions and prizes…
In other words, provide a more companionable exploration of digital books rather than the solitary practice of clicking through the web jungle. And along the way, ensure a book buying experience that is accessible, informative, entertaining and interactive.