Some would argue that bookstores are becoming a thing of the past given today’s digital age and the rise of e-reading. Many point to international book retailer Borders as an example. At one point, there were over 500 Borders superstores in the United States, with additional stores in Singapore, New Zealand and Australia. The company was eventually forced into bankruptcy, both due to poor business planning and foresight and also due to the increasing selection of online booksellers and the rise of digital media.
While Borders was undone, this doesn’t need to be the fate of all bookstores in the 21st century. As convenient as e-reading is today, it cannot replace human contact. Bookstores around the world are showing real innovation in how they’re working to keep the magic of the written word alive and make the corner bookstore a fun place to spend an afternoon, catch up with friends and even work on English skills in a comfortable setting.
How Bookstores are Embracing the Digital Age and Staying Relevant
Across the world there are great examples of bookstores large and small that manage to stay relevant and compete with the instant access, cheap prices and huge selection on the Internet.
One small, independent bookstore in the United States opened just a few years ago as dozens of nearby bookstores shut their doors. The store didn’t just scrape by, though, it managed to turn an ever-growing profit month after month with an innovative strategy. This bookstore owner installed his own printing press to compete with the Internet’s inventory, giving him the ability to print 5 million books, including Google Books, as well as offer custom publishing. Readers can enter his store, request a hard-to-find book or out-of-print book, and have it in hand in about four minutes.
The future of bookstores may even go further in this embrace of new technology, perhaps letting shoppers download a digital copy of a book over free Wi-Fi access in the store, or offering the option of a dual pack book with an in-store book purchase that includes the printed version as well as digital or audio versions.
Bookstores Offer the Human Experience
One thing that e-books cannot offer is the human experience and the ability to socialize and get out in the world while staying informed and catching up on the latest sci-fi or thriller release. Bookstores of the past were a place to relax with friends, have a drink and take in a newspaper or a book, and many bookstores today are trying to bring that back.
A bookstore chain in China’s Shanghai region is reintroducing people to the charm of bookstores by incorporating food, beverages and even a stationary outlet into the store itself. These customer-oriented bookstores attract readers and offer a new spin on book-selling by creating a comfortable, laid-back atmosphere where people can spend some time reading.
Re-embracing the Bookstore
If it’s been a while since you’ve even set foot inside a bookstore, it may be time for you to re-embrace the charm of a neighborhood bookstore to catch up on your reading. Along with catching up on the news and current events, reading English books can be a great way to gain more familiarity with words and spelling, and there is no better way to practice your reading than finding a great book that catches your attention and sparks your imagination!