What is happening to bookstores and the publishing industry?
Every time I look at my Yahoo page or read Guardian online I find myself struck by news of closing bookshops and the death of book printing/publishing. The most recent was that of Barnes and Nobles looking out for a sale. Is it really dying? Or are we simply talking about some lack of innovation on the company’s part?
In an earlier post I claimed being unable to read a book through a monitor. I’ve always loved the idea of reading the actual book. I find that reading is a five senses thing as opposed to the exclusive property of sight. I’ve always been oldie in most things with a few technology favorites on the fringe. Luckily, I find that the book store industry in the country (the Philippines, that is) is still thriving and the whole Kindle isn’t catching on…well, not yet in this side of the world. The question I want to pose is how do you feel about closing book stores and the claim that it’s the era of the e-reader? Are you up for it?
I’m actually scared about it. I like the printed word. Reading via a technological tool just bothers me. I won’t be able to smell the pages, feel the paper grain, and hear the quietness of a turned page. Though Amazon can still deliver one’s book at the click of a mouse, I love the whole going to the bookstore thing. I love browsing through the shelves and looking through book art. I spend most of my days in front of the computer and I hate the whole idea of browsing through the computer to buy a book. I do have some online suppliers but they are small independent shops that keep about 30 titles the most. If we talk about Amazon – it’s this giant enterprise (very much like the giant bookshops), but you have to do streamline searching. It isn’t the same as traveling through a bookstore. I don’t know, maybe this too is an issue of the senses.
There is adventure in looking for a book in a shop. I have enough patience for it that I don’t have for clicking through a database. I love libraries for the same reason. There is greater happenstance in the whole book searching that streamlining in database doesn’t have. There’s something beautiful about lined up book spines on wooden shelves. There’s something warming about being surrounded by books and smelling the distinct smell of paper as you enter the store.
Another angle is the environmental argument. Paper does mean consumption of trees, but I also believe publishers have a work around. There’s a lot of paper we can recycle into book pages. I also think that sites like Better World Books and Second Hand Bookshops allow us to create a venue for second hand books. But I also believe that the bookshop industry isn’t dying, not in the absolute sense. I just think that it becomes more an issue of innovation and love for books as opposed to massive capitalism (i.e profits, earnings, and shareholders). Maybe this is the opportunity for independent book stores?
Forgive the lack of organization in my writing. It’s fairly top-of-the-mind. So what are your thoughts on this?