A World Without Bookstores
I find myself pulled in two directions. I want both the convenience of buying books on-line and the ability to go and browse (and purchase from) a carefully curated bookstore. But like a petulant child, today I realised I can’t have both.
My favourite bookstore, Village Books in Wandsworth, London, is closing (note that their Dulwich Shop is staying open). Driven by declining footfall, sales are down 27% over 3 years. The owner tells me that book stores in the UK are closing at the rate of one a week. I thought he was exaggerating until I saw this article saying that 73 bookstores closed in the UK in 2012.
Amazon and the web is winning.
Buying books on the web works well for me when I know the title. Browsing for books online when I dont know what I want, is still a cold and unsatisfying experience. The algorithms and recommendation engines can’t yet beat that peaceful and rare “lost in time” experience of browsing for books in a bookstore. My family love spending their book tokens browsing the shelves. Yes, I know that’s querky and old fashioned….particularly from someone who evangelises about social commerce.
“They will have to get amazon vouchers now”
For books, it’s only a matter of time before we see the last of the bookshops (indeed with a little more time, I suspect most books will be digital).
But what about other types of shops, what does the future hold for them. It will be interesting to see how things play out for the likes of fashion and electrical goods with their own pressures from changing consumer behaviour – clearly they are goods that haven’t been digitised….. yet, or is 3D printing the start?