Thanks for the tip, I’ll get it on Amazon

Bookstores have had it with shoppers who browse, then buy online

Photograph by Cole Garside

Independent booksellers have taken a lot of body blows in the last two decades—from the coming of superstores such as Indigo, through the real behemoth on the block, Amazon, to ebooks—to the extent that some indie stores in the U.S. have donation jars beside their cash registers. But nothing has gutted the indies, emotionally as well as financially, as the practice known as “showrooming.” Prospective buyers come into bookshops, wander the stacks, peruse the artful displays and even—unkindest cut of all—seek the advice of staff. Then they leave, those who bother to do so first, and order the books they want online, where prices can be up to 50 per cent cheaper. “That is so hard for us to take,” says Eleanor LeFave, owner of Mabel’s Fables children’s bookstore in Toronto, “especially the abuse of our staff’s time and expertise.”

Showrooming is widespread. Surveys in the U.S. and Britain reveal nearly half of book-buying decisions are still made in bookstores, a percentage far higher than actual sales. (Amazon alone accounts for about 40 per cent of American book purchases.) Still, booksellers’ laments elicit little sympathy in a price-conscious commercial society. Internet commentators tend to shrug. If you can’t compete on cost, you can’t compete, end of story—just as it has been for 300 Canadian bookstores in the last decade, perhaps a fifth of the total.

But the issue is not that simple. The services, if not the products, of bookshops are still in demand: No one has yet found a substitute for browsing in them. The reasons why bricks-and-mortar booksellers, especially independents, can’t compete with online retailers, particularly Amazon, are numerous, occasionally complicated and always venomously disputed. If the indies can’t compete on price, it’s equally evident the online sellers can’t (yet) compete on guidance and immersive experience.

The indies’ main competitive edge can actually add to the booksellers’ frustration over showrooming, according to Tracey Higgins, co-owner of Bryan Prince Bookseller in Hamilton. “All we have is our knowledge—the books we’ve read, our ability to tell someone, ‘Yes, I know that’s an awful cover, but it’s a really good book’—so you have to invest the time. And when you never see them again, it really, really drives me bananas.”

What to do about the situation—how, depending on perspective, to either bolster or replace bookstores—is a huge dilemma in the trade. There have been moves from each side. Last summer, Amazon bought GoodReads, the social reading network with more than 10 million titles under review. It was clearly an attempt to create a virtual browsing experience, even while online evaluations were coming under more scrutiny than ever. Last month, New York state regulators fined 19 companies $350,000 for posting their own fake reviews.

In France, on the other hand, where it has been illegal since 1981 to discount a book more than five per cent from its cover price, the government is poised to ban any discounting of books that are shipped to buyers, effectively making online stock more costly than a bookstore’s. Quebec is considering a quasi-fixed price for books in the first nine months after their release, limiting discounting to 10 per cent in that period. Both measures are aimed at Amazon, which European critics accuse of dumping—providing goods and services below cost in order to capture market share—and its offer of free shipping.

In the more robustly capitalist Anglosphere, though, it’s doubtful the French and Québécois plans will fly, nor anything at all that smacks of price-fixing. And that goes for Higgins’s observation that if the major publishers, “who give those humongous discounts to Amazon in the first place,” stood unified against the practice they wouldn’t have to do it. Nor is there reason to expect virtual browsing to capture readers’ hearts, minds and trust like actual browsing. Here, then, the existential issue remains: Everybody loves bookstores, but nobody wants to pay the prices that keep them alive.




Browse

Thanks for the tip, I’ll get it on Amazon

  1. I read book reviews online, including Mr Bethune’s. I watch the major award winners, also online, and find, for example, the Booker award winners are reliably great books. Then I check Amazon or Indigo and order — because it is amazingly convenient, tends to be slightly less than at a bookstore, and they are shipped straight to my door, also generally for free. I am also buying music this way — but I never darken the door of the actual book or music stores, all the reviews, the articles, and the ability to order is at my fingertips. And yes, that is difficult to compete with. But it seems more like a model that’s looking out for me — I may live far from a city, or have no indie bookstore for hundreds of kilometres. Don’t beat up the business model; the times, they are a changin’.

    • Yeah, Amazon is “looking out for you”. They’ve got your best interests in mind. It’s not about the money for Bezos, it’s about making the world a better place.

      • Give me a break. If businesses don’t care about their customers, if they don’t provide anything of value, they’re not going to stay in business very long. Yes, they care about profit. But they also care about their customers because without them they’re not making any money.

        • ‘Care’ is a pretty big word to describe a business-customer relationship when that business is based entirely online, and who automate almost everything they possibly can. If Apple or Amazon could operate everything online with a half-dozen guys in Bangladesh, they would. But for sure the shareholders ‘care’ about their profits. That’s a given.

          • Who cares if they are online? I bought a large LED television from Amazon a couple months ago. And when the delivery company screwed up my delivery (couldn’t find my house, and this particular company only visited my area 2 times/week), I called Amazon to complain. They tried working something out with the freight company, but couldn’t. Instead they told me that I could either wait a couple more days, or if I preferred, get a full refund. They then proceeded to tell me that the specific television I was looking for was in stock at a local retailer (not affiliated with Amazon), and that they had a policy of price-matching Amazon if needed the television the same day.

            If that’s not caring about a customer’s experience, I don’t know what is.

          • Sound policies in place to keep customers who might complain online. That’s necessary when you’ve got competition. These comment fields are the bane of business’ existence these days.

            Case #2: My father-in-law bought 3 songs from iTunes a week or so ago. They billed him for a 4th song, so he called up to have them remove it from the bill. They wouldn’t. He’s a reasonable, soft-spoken guy. After a few emails and him calling back a 2nd and 3rd time, they cut off his iTunes account.

            Less competition, less ‘caring’ about the customer. Where else are you gonna buy music for your iPad? And online it’s just SO easy not to really give a hoot.

          • “They cut off his itunes account.” really?

          • This comment was deleted.

        • Caring for Amazon means posting this (on Amazon’s ‘Our Planet’ front page, last updated May of 2011): “At Amazon, we believe that innovation has the power to change the world. As we strive to become Earth’s most customer-centric company, we constantly look for new ways to innovate on behalf of our different customers: individuals who shop our global websites, merchants who sell on our platform, developers who use our infrastructure to create their businesses, and creators of the books, music, films, games and other content we sell through our websites. We believe that our greatest contribution to the good of society comes directly from these core business activities.”

  2. The move to on-line business has taken a lot of joy out of my
    life. Back in the middle Ice Age I worked in Halifax for a couple
    of years. I lived about a mile and a half from my work and there
    was two good record (LP’s !) stores and three good book ( 1 used )
    stores on the way. All local and independent and often quirky.
    Spent as much time reading LP sleeves as book jackets and resulted
    in a savings account that existed in name only. And I was usually late
    getting home.
    These days my income is fixed and my age is not, so I live at the mercy
    of the public library .. at least as long as such things exist.

  3. Haven’t been in a bookstore in years. I rarely even get hard copy at the door anymore. But my kindle gets heavy-duty use.

  4. Book store are hardly the only ones affected by “showrooming”. It’s prevalent in basically every retail market. The retail market is changing quickly and drastically, nobody has the “right” to run a profitable independent book store. If the market won’t support it, the business will die. It’s that simple.

    • Rick; I wonder if you ever visit a retail store, ask the advice of the knowledgable employee and sit in their chair to browse the item to confirm the recommendation and, then, leave to order the item on line. Do you believe that you have the “right” to do that?

      • If you ever find knowledgable staff in a retail store, please let me know.

        Alos, he doesn’t have to have a “right” to do it. Right now, it works in his favor. If he has the ability, he can do it.

        • I work at a retail bookstore B&N, we’re briefed every morning on new books, movies and even music that comes into the store. They only hire people who can talk about books they’ve read and name other titles and authors that are similar in order to be a good hand seller (literally they make games out of expanding staff’s knowledge at staff meetings) There are plenty of retail workers who know their products incredibly well. I don’t judge anyone who does their business online, but part of the reason bookstore books are more expensive is the cost of staff and the actual store itself. If someone comes in and has me find and suggest books for them, ask my advice for presents, ask for authors similar to David Sedaris or whoever and take up a good 1/2hr of my time and then shrug, smile, and say “awesome, but I’ll get them on amazon” they have essentially stolen from us because part of the cost is customer service. of course they can do it and I force myself to keep a smile and tell them to have a nice day. But my GOD is it one of the most frustrating things to deal with and no, it is not okay to do it. You CAN do it, we can not stop you, but that doesn’t make it something you should do, or that is not a complete jerk move. We’re still busy, running retail stores and dealing with displays and promo and prep work, while keeping the store clean, organized (everything has to be separated by genre, sub section and alphabetized) AND helping customers, if you know you’re not going to buy anything and our going to buy from our main competitor, and come in to use our services and waste our time, it feels about the same as left and in fact, is hurting us more than the people who just come in and actually steal merchandise. It’s not illegal to cheat on someone, or act rude or entitled but it’s not okay to do. Showrooming is not illegal but it is not okay.

          And to be clear, there is a difference. I don’t care if you come in, look around, don’t find anything you want and leave. In fact I encourage people to do so, 9 times out of ten, they get something, even if it’s small, or just a coffee from the cafe. But don’t use our services and then do business elsewhere.

          • No little irony here: B&N was once considered only second to Beelzebub by independent booksellers. Now they too [B&N] see themselves as victims. It is far to easy to find a book that you really love on Amazon then find others who love the same book and then look at their recommendations regarding other books. This exercise can take just minutes and can be far more fruitful than an hour clerk who may or may not be on top of things.

      • Sure. As a consumer, I have the right to purchase merchandise wherever I want.

        What if I learned about a book via Amazon.com, and then decided to just check it out of my library instead? Do I have the “right” to do that? Sure.

      • I work retail and I will even say the customer has every right to walk in to my place of business and ask questions and then walk out with an informed decision. I may try my damned hardest to get their business, but it’s their choice and their right. As frustrating as it may be, it really does look like the buying and selling of product is heavily shifting to an online marketplace.

    • Agreed. The imminent demise of electronics retailers is being brought by the same “amazon showroom” nickname. We can’t laugh at the electronics industry being destroyed then lament bookstores for the same reasons.

      • Sheesh, my son spent an entire year getting the “local Canadian-owned” electronics retailer into small claims court. The judge laughed at them, ordered them to repay my son every freakin’ cent they stole from him, and a little more for his trouble. My advice is to NEVER buy from an electronics shop — haha, just walk around and familiarize yourself with the stuff, and then buy it from Costco or the Bay or some place that HONOURS its warranties.

        • …and in 5 years, you won’t be able to showroom, because most of those stores you browse in will be gone.

  5. As long as the used bookstore in my neighborhood is open, they will continue to get my business. I’ve spent many a happy hour browsing the shelves and chatting with the owners who know me by name. On-line or large stores just can’t offer the same experience.

    • I work at Barnes & Noble, a large store and I know plenty of my customers by name. I have customers who know when I come in to work most weeks and come in to see me and ask my advice on films (I work primarily in the music/dvd department). Large stores can easily have that experience. Maybe the customers can’t chat with the owners, but the staff who’s there all know their books.

      • Someone else also posted who works at Barnes & Noble. It sounds like they’ve done a good job hiring personable people who know their stock and enjoy providing the customer experience. Chapters and Indigo could take lessons.

  6. I do buy local sometimes, but I do it out of sentimentality. What’s not forgivable is *telling the clerk / owner that you’re laughing all the way to the bank at their expense.

    • As an independent book store employee, it’s obvious that if someone wants a book bad enough, Amazon gives the best deal. What we try to offer is a fulfilling shopping experience, which includes knowledgable recommendations and as big of a discount as we can give. Our customers appreciate that. If you ever tell a book store employee, “I’ll just buy it from Amazon,” believe me, they won’t forget you if you ever come back.

      • What are you going to do, throw them out on their ear? Give them sour looks? Great business model.

        Let’s face it, almost all employees of bookstores large or small, almost all owners, are illiterate and know almost nothing about books. I would as soon take advice on what to read or buy from a bookstore employee as I would have a pharmacy clerk write me a prescription.

        • You, my friend, are an idiot! You probably have a job that you don’t deserve, and think you are better than everyone. Booksellers work their A$$es off for people like you. We know more about most books than the average person. Get your facts straight before calling us illiterate!

  7. The Reviews at Amazon, when they are honest, bring much more to the table than any bookstore clerk does.

    • When they are honest and at least a little bit intelligent. :)

      • In 5 minutes you can find a larger range of recommendations from a larger group of people with taste similar to yours then you can obtain from a bookstore clerk after an hour conversation. The myth that a bookstore clerk has special powers is just that: a myth.

  8. I do buy books from Amazon, but generally, I’d rather go to the bookstore and get it immediately. I go to Amazon or Powell’s when I can’t find something that’s either out of print or if the bookstore doesn’t have it. It’s impossible for a store to stock everything. That doesn’t mean I won’t be back, or that I won’t buy there, because I do. As for price, if it’s way out of my budget in the store I’ll find it online; however, that doesn’t happen very often except for specialty books.

  9. As one comment said, ‘times are a changin’. It would be nice if the government stayed out of it. The new way, either fortunately or unfortunately, time will tell, is online selling and electronic books.

  10. Does anyone doubt that once Barnes and Noble closes, book prices on Amazon are suddenly going to get a lot more expensive?

    • Brian,

      Home Depot did exactly that! Came into town with super low prices and tons of employees and soon after it drove all the local hardware stores out of business the slowly started raising prices and sliming down its staff! Now there is no local hardware stores left!

  11. Walmart’s latest tagline is “Save Money. Live Better.”. Got me thinking.

    Really? Is that all it takes? I’ll have a better life if I save money on things? I think what Walmart is trying to say is if I save money on stuff today, I can then manage to get more stuff with the money I save. Correct? More stuff = happier existence. Brilliant. Logical. In contrast, Walmart is admonishing me that if I buy my stuff from smaller shops that may have to charge more, I will inevitably be unhappy, live a less satisfying life, have less stuff, maybe even be miserable. I don’t wanna be miserable. Why would anyone want to be miserable?

    Walmart would know. When I think of Walmart, I think of yellow, happy, bouncing ball faces. Isn’t that their thing – happy faces bouncing around reducing prices? It’s all coming together. Low prices >> saving money >> living better >> happy faces >> bliss. I think I get it.

    Just a sec – isn’t Walmart in the business of selling stuff? They wouldn’t just make something as fragile as the ‘the key to happiness’ or worse yet, ‘the road to gloom’ to sell more stuff, would they? Nah. Do they really want to tell me the truth, or do they really want to keep their shareholders happy?

    I’m confused. I’ll just be happy and follow the bouncing happy face ball.

    I do know one thing that leads to bliss. Ignorance. Not knowing, not caring.

    • And breaking the consumerism habit you describe well (or programming they’ve successfully planted in most people).

  12. The book industry is changing much like the transformation of the music industry.

    • It’s not just music & books, it’s all content; art, information, fiction, music, software, etc. Stuff people create. Amazon & Apple collect content and flog it. Bookstores collect book content to sell. You can find a lot of content free on the internet, most of it if you look hard enough.

      Bookshops at least go through the bother of bringing in books, stocking bookshelves, staffing shops with fairly knowledgeable employees, providing almost a community center for content. Sure, they do it to make a buck, maybe even to get rich. But it takes actual work. Delivering music and books to devices over the internet doesn’t really take any work.

      I have no idea where I’m going with this, so I’ll stop now.

      • The point is everything changes, and its better to adapt, than to artificially make rules to prevent the change. I remember when LPs were on there way out. There were people that argued LPs had better sound quality than CDs, when played on a high quality turntable. Oh well.

      • Chris, you sound so angry about these changes. I love books: I love their content, I love their covers and fonts and paper, the very physicality of books. Somebody WROTE that book — the story, the research, the careful combination of words to strike just the right tone. But we cannot pretend the booksellers are anything but a middle man — they are bricks and mortar stores, with real people who take your money. It’s RETAIL. And now, with the advent and explosion of the internet, those of us who live in remote or small centres, have access to new books, at good prices, delivered to our door. I mean, I can’t remember the last time I used a blacksmith either — I guess driving cars means we put them out of business too!

        • What I’m angry about is how a few companies can so easily take control of the world’s content & content providers through a web site, and how we all just sit back and talk about how good they are for us.

          The physical books themselves will be a thing of the past very soon – it will all just be electronically delivered to your viewing device. Amazon will make sure of that. By not having to actually store and deliver a book – and still charge roughly the same price – is what they want. And they’ll get it.

          Once upon a time, you opened a shop and looked to control the geographical zone that customers would come in from. You could open up multiple shops, and try and control more zones. Today, you’re Bezos and your ‘zone’ is the entire planet. Tell me that’s good for the consumer.

      • Chris, there is still plenty of WORK going on to get that content to the consumer, it has just shifted from retail salespeople and shops, over to the IT/tech people who figure out how to get the product to the consumer (and make it work on umpteen devices and formats and platforms, and try to automate as much as possible for all of us non-techie consumers.) The workload still exists, it has just morphed and moved over to a different kind of employee.
        Just look at the rise of self-publishing (the concept is cool, but of the content I am not necessarily a fan). Somebody did a *lot* of work to build the program that allows a writer to upload all their words and converts it into a book format for readers to buy.

        • Seeford … your operative word is ‘did’.

          I’ve worked in the technology field now around 25 years. You’re absolutely right, it certainly has been difficult to get things working well on different devices, different browsers, different phones, etc. But day by day, it’s getting easier. A lot easier. Blackberry fell into the abyss mostly because it was SO difficult for apps to be built on their platform – today, companies understand that the success of their device/platform is on how easily they can get content running or displayed. It’s just a matter of time before it’s an entirely automated process where only a few people need to swap the odd piece of equipment out.

          As an example – the Obamacare healthcare “website” fiasco going on in the States. This isn’t a “website”, it’s a tremendously complex application that interfaces with probably hundreds of 3rd party systems. For sure it will be difficult to set up. But once it’s running well in a month or so? All it will need is a small-ish team of maintenance people to manage it. Think of how many staff you’d require to do it all by mail & telephone … and in that scenario, you’d never be going into ‘maintenance mode’.

  13. I always buy books when I’m in bookstores (sometimes journals, pens, or other stuff that some bookstores carry) even ones that are new for me, the experience of buying a book is unique when done in store. I can see how the practice of browsing then leaving might be upsetting to bookstore clerks (and the bottom-line) sure.

    • Yes, but the whole point of the bricks and mortar and the knowledgeable clerk is to entice you in to browse, and perhaps buy. I don’t buy expensive jewellery every time I go into a jewellery store either, but they want me to look and touch and buy, right? That is something online can never provide — the tactile satisfaction of the shopping experience (or dissatisfaction).

  14. I don’t see the comparison with electronics showrooming, because electronics stores simply stay reasonably competitive with online prices. Retail bookstores are committing suicide. There’s no other media commodity so steeply and reliably discounted, retail vs. online, forget about e-books.

    I struggled to find any cheaper online deal on a laptop vs. Best Buy–bought my laptop at Best Buy. “Dark Knight Rises” is currently $7.99 at Best Buy–and $7.99 at Amazon. For a new Ipod Touch, you’re looking at maybe a 5% discount buying online, vs. an invariable 30-70%(!) discount buying new books from Amazon. It’s just a no-brainer.

  15. Used bookstores will probably be the only bookstores to survive as they’re selling still good books at a discount.

    • And it’s nice not having to pay for shipping when you don’t really want to buy $25 worth to get free shipping and not having to wait for shipping if the book is in stock.

  16. I use my local library extensively. They have well-read, knowledgeable employees, and I don’t feel guilty if I decide to buy the book from Amazon (because the library isn’t selling books).

    Plus I also use Goodreads to help identify other good authors/books that I would like based on how I have rated other books that I have read.

  17. Perhaps if books weren’t so expensive when brand new, then this wouldn’t be a problem. Complain about publishers and their prices if you’re going to get indignant. Otherwise this article reeks of entitlement…

    And me? I just buy everything second-hand anyway, because knowlege is power and you shouldn’t have to pay over the odds to expand your mind.

  18. “Then they leave, those who bother to do so first, and order the books they want online, where prices can be up to 50 per cent cheaper.” Except that on technical/academic books, the prices can be up to $100 cheaper on Amazon, if not more. If I’m being ripped off by the bookstore, I’m not going to buy the book. If the markup over Amazon is just $0.50, that’s fine though.

    But as a consequence, I usually go to used bookstores to find older, out of print books rather than new books. This is really an area where they have a comparative advantage — even if I could find the book online, I have no idea what condition the book would be in. At the bookstore I can know exactly what I am getting.

    • College bookstores in particular are just outrageous. They make B&N books look cheap in comparison. I always got mine from Chegg or Amazon.

  19. Unfortunately this happens in ALL types of retail stores! I’m in the Car Stereo industry and customers come to my shop all the time for information and FREE advice only to go online to buy! And that same customer comes back a week later and asks us to warranty his online purchase after it doesn’t work! Or asks us to help explain how to operate their new radio since we sell that same model! I wish the manufacturers would limit how cheap their products could be sold for online! The worst part is those dollars are being taken out of the community and not recycled to other retailers and ultimately this will be the demise of the brick and mortor stores we take for granted! REMEMBER these merchants spend money in your restaurants and ice cream shops and auto mechanic shops and all of the locally owned businesses! AMAZON doesn’t contribute ANY money to your community!!!!

  20. I actually find the process of physically shopping to be a fairly awful experience, and would buy online even if the price were the same. With prime I get the stuff quite quickly, and if I don’t like something its very easy to return it. no traffic, no parking, no mess.

  21. | No one has yet found a substitute for browsing in them.

    Yes, I have: reddit, Amazon reviews, lists of award winning books. I haven’t been to a book store or library in years. Plus I have thousands of free ebooks for my perusal online. The simple fact is that most stores will be gone in ten or twenty more years. Or if they do exist, we’ll be served by robots. Once we get people into 3D measuring scanners and custom clothes 3-D printed on demand there’ll be no reason to try things on.

  22. How do we get Barack Obama not to follow the insane French plan at requiring books not to have any discount if purchased online? If government can force people to buy things they don’t want, in configurations that they don’t desire or need, it’s not a leap to think this Administration thinks it has the authority to price specific items or a whole host of products that cross state lines. They’ll use the Commerce Clause and we’ll end up in New France so things are ‘fair’ for bookstores.

    • Simple. We just have to make sure that reading is not a prerequisite for life, and we need to ensure that those who want to read but don’t have the means to do so, don’t have a way of getting books anyway, and dumping the cost of their books onto people who are actually buying books.

      What I’m clumsily trying to say is equating this to healthcare is amusing, but completely and utterly stupid.

      By the way, what’s your view on car insurance?

  23. I only enter a book store if I need the book or magazine right then. Otherwise I prefer to save up to 50%.

  24. Well I guess I’m the bad guy then. I “showroom” all the time, but not just for books, for pretty much anything and everything that is cheaper online.

    • I guess I am worse because I have read entire books in the bookstore without buying them. :)

  25. I spend little time any more in book stores. I used to spend hours just going over titles in many sections. Now it’s all online. Sad to see the stores go. Memories.

  26. I used to love bookstores but selection is often sparse or lacks depth in my interests. The combination of Amazon’s selection, reviews, and convenience is hard to beat especially when combined with electronic distribution. Unless you’re looking for ambiance I don’t think the locals are going to survive without finding a niche. BTW, I think not buying from the folks who provide you service is reprehensible but it’s been difficult to find good service in retail for a long time.

  27. Virtual browsing cannot compare with actual browsing. I like to flip through and look at random pages throughout the whole book. That tells me more than the first chapter or reviews ever would, even though reviews are helpful.

    More importantly, scrolling down the list of search results and constantly clicking “Next Page” gets tedious quickly.

  28. I fail to understand why people still choose to pay a premium for the inconvenience of actually having to go to the shop.

    The smarter owners have capitalised on the “experience” of book shopping and added a coffee / cake shop, which is a thoroughly pleasant experience and will continue to do well. The dead tree Luddites who cling hopelessly to a business model of a generation past will soon be a thing of the past.

    Business is really rather simple, adapt or die.

  29. I was recently a bookseller in a independent bookstore in North London, and we saw a lot of this. People still need advice, and like to discuss books with booksellers. Many take this advice and download the book – often at a fraction of the price – at home. Until bookshops can come up with a way of getting a cut out of online sales, be it e-books or paper copies, the trade will diminish. I think this is actually easier than they industry makes out – all the bookshops need is a barcode with their ‘signature’ on it, so that the publisher knows where the book was picked up from. Today, publishers still benefit from the browsing facility that booksellers provide, so in the meantime they should support booksellers to find a way to keep the trade (and the shop window) going.

  30. Anyone who thinks that the “showrooming” experience cannot be obtained online is participating in an exercise of self delusion. More than a few publications allow for sample viewing online. Misrepresenting the truth will not change the fact that more books and book recommendations are available online at a lower cost than your local brick and mortar bookstore business [yes, it is a business] can supply.

  31. I buy books from Amazon because I dislike the crappy customer service of bookstore chains such as Chapters and Indigo…if they want my money they have to be polite and courteous, and had to deal with the fact that I prefer using English when I am shopping at Indigo. On Amazon I do not have to deal with snotty and rude employees or with the lack of customer service, I can find what I want with just one click and the shipping is free.

  32. I don’t read paper books. I love ebooks and I will read them only if the publisher has permitted a reasonable sample.

    I have shelves and shelves of paper books from my paper book reading days, but I recently downloaded a book I have on my shelf because I wanted to re-read it on my tablet.

    My friends are all avid readers and most prefer paper for the predictable list of romantic reasons, but they are gradually coming around. In fact the most fervent luddite recently switched when his sister gave him a reader for his birthday.

    Paper books kill trees. Their spines split, pages fall out, they gather dust, grow moldy, take up space, and make moving more of a chore, in my case twice the chore it would otherwise be.

    Bookstores? I don’t care. They will go the way of CD stores and blacksmiths.

    My only worry is that after the apocalypse and all the lights go out? What to read?

  33. It will be sad to see the bricks and mortar retailers go.

    Perusing in a bookstore is a much different experience than buying online. Online tends to be focused around more specific searches, whereas in a bookstore you wander around and all sorts of things catch your attention.

    When I used to work next near some bookstores I would buy a heck of a lot more books, mostly because I saw something that caught my eye and I gave it a chance. Same with music. But now that I buy books and music online and rarely go to a book or music store I am exposed to far fewer new things and buy a lot less. Good for my bank account, I guess, but not necessarily good for my growth as a human being.

  34. The book distributors aren’t doing bookstores or publishers any favours, either. I can order a book online and have it within days, or special order it from a bookstore, who will then have to deal with a lethargic distributor, who’ll take four to six weeks to satisfy the order.
    Likely from the same warehouse.

  35. I never go into bookshops. I do all my browser, researching and purchasing online. usually as ebooks. So local stores are not losing my business, because they never had it in the first place.

    • How old are you
      You’ve made a broad statement that goes back less hen 20 years.

  36. Independent booksellers are some of the best-educated people in the retail sector. Many are holders of advanced degrees and the great majority are inveterate readers. Suggesting that they are illiterate is ridiculous. And they provide a real service: aside from the time the bookseller saves the customer searching the shelves for specific titles, the bookseller has the ability to take the incomplete—and sometimes inaccurate—information that a customer can sometimes provide and come up with the exact title the customer is looking for. There’s an old joke among booksellers about a customer who comes in looking for a book on a certain subject, and his only specific information is that the cover is blue. I can vouch for the truth underlying the joke, as it happened to me on a semi-regular basis.

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