Are our bookshops dying a slow and painful death at the hands of online consumerism? In 2011 we said goodbye to Borders, my favourite bookstore. Five years on and I still find myself daydreaming about my trips out to this shop.
With hope, we look, in the UK, to Waterstones for our conglomerate book shop of choice. I found an article that said nearly half of books bought are bought online, which is less that I thought this figure would be. However. I have also seen one stating nearly 95% of Brits buy goods via internet retailers. I will hold my hand up in admittance that I do buy some of my books online and I feel guilty for it. Amazon’s lure of a 1p novel with £2.80 postage is sometimes too hard for a book loving student to resist. If I had more of an income, didn’t have to pay for rent, food and loo roll, then I would happily stock up on a monthly Waterstone’s trip (hell, why not weekly?!). Unfortunately, I am not this lucky and I have a book buying habit that I need to curb.
Kindles became a big deal about four years ago and started being sold by not just Amazon, but the shops they were denying the sales of actual paper books to. For a while here it seemed that this tiny device could take over the physicality of pages between your hands and that brilliant smell you can get from a book. Suddenly you could have thousands of books in your back pocket, you could read in bed without needing a light on and you could download a book within seconds. This was a fad I also got swept up in, I am the owner of a Kindle Paperwhite and I do enjoy it. I buy books on there from time to time and my library is filled with the free classics the Kindle stores provides you with. But ultimately for me, I much prefer the feel of a real book and now in 2016, it seems that books are making a comeback. We are seeing the numbers of book sales increase and the shops we love are staying firmly rooted in place. The telegraph published an article that explains kindle sales ‘hitting the bottom of the cliff’. Waterstone’s stores are starting to no longer stock the e-reader, the era of the book is back.
Whilst there is a decline in bookshops around the UK, this decline is reducing. Currently, we have more car dealerships than we do bookshops, as I read in the telegraph’s article. A book is such a cheap and long lasting provider of entertainment and I do not want to see it fall. Bookshops must fight to remain a competitor against their online cousins, and it is a fight they should have never had to make. I would like to make a promise with myself that once I leave university I will only buy books from bookshops and I hope this is a promise I will keep. It is refreshing to visit towns and see the logos of independent booksellers. It gives me hope that the bookshop is not a dying breed and is in fact, something our children will see and appreciate in the same way that we have been able to.