The Future Of Bookshops Is Here And Now
To begin with, independent bookshops in UK have fallen below 1000. According to the Booksellers Association it is a crisis situation as there are only 987 bookshops left and the number can reduce further.
One of the main reasons cited by owners of some stores who have or are planning to shut shop is the rise of ‘eBooks’. Post failure, bookshop owners have started playing the blame game and darting at Amazon as being one of the main culprits for putting their stores out of business.
I feel, as these bookshops point fingers at Amazon or for that matter any online book store for their failure, the main reason of their failure is that they have been unable to look at obvious means of competing with the online book stores: do what the online book stores can’t! To look at this, bookshop owners need to go back to the fundamentals of a bookshop.
A bookshop is fundamentally a brick and mortar store stacking a collection of books, where reading aficionados come and enjoy reading their favorite books over a coffee or checkout bibliophiles to figure out which book they would want to read next, or meet-up and network with other book readers and discuss and share their view about certain books. Now all of this can still continue, and the only thing that changes is the books have now to be replaced with eBooks. That is the easiest way they can match-up to the online book stores like Amazon.
On the contrary instead of competing, they can tie-up with online book stores to provide the eBooks. By doing this the benefits for these bookshops can be multifold;
– they don’t need to stack up shelves and shelves of books, instead a wi-fi service, a kiosk and an online security system would be handier.
-the bookshops would not even need to bother about maintenance of books, inventory management and all related stuffs since this will be taken care by the online book store.
With a lot of shelf space getting free, bookshops can make room for more people to visit or probably go boutique and save a lot of costs arising out of space or maintenance. They can focus more on trying to create an ambience for the readers and reinvent into being more of a hangout and social hub where people, passionate about reading, come together. They can even hold small events such as author signings, or getting an expert to help people with their eBooks and ereader systems, and so on.
For bookshops to continue to be in the digital culture, it is may be a matter of donning a makeover and reinvention. Finding the possible means to adapt and become relevant to their customers in this eBook age. It is not about preparing for the future, rather the future is here and now.
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