Image: Unsplash
Image: Unsplash

Protecting our bookshops in an increasingly digital age

The use of technology grows every single day and, with this, the popularity of e-books, or of buying books online and having them delivered straight to your door, also grows. Unfortunately, in the past years, many bookshops have had to close their doors due to not being able to compete with the online markets. But it seems things are beginning to look up as more recent studies show that this is changing: the remaining book stores are slowly learning to adapt to this new, ‘digital’ age.

Many book shops offer something more than just ‘a place to buy a book’. They often create a community, somewhere where you can meet like-minded, novel-loving people. If you pop into your local bookshop today, you’ll probably see it offers weekly or monthly book clubs, maybe question and answer sessions with authors, perhaps the occasional coffee morning, and so on. They tend to organise a variety of events and activities so that they can keep people interested, and keep people going to them for something they can’t get elsewhere.

They can profit from our instinctive need to see and talk to other people, to interact with them

Book shops are a necessity for those who crave social interaction, as this isn’t something they can get from buying a book online where you don’t even need to leave your home let alone talk to someone else. Sure, it’s easy, but it lacks that notion of interacting with someone which most of us enjoy. Going to a bookshop isn’t always just about buying a book and leaving, it is a lot more than that. Bookshops can really benefit from this. They can profit from our instinctive need to see and talk to other people, to interact with them, and this in itself will protect them from the digital age.

To an extent, book stores can also use technology in order to protect themselves from some of the problems that they might face as a result of it – for example, loss of customers. An example of this would be through social media, where they can promote themselves and reach a wider audience than they would have ever been able to in the past. Now shops can advertise online and reach hundreds if not thousands more people, which in itself reaches a number of customers who previously would not have even heard of them.

They can also use certain benefits of technology for their own advantage

Through social media bookshops can easily promote previously discussed events taking place in their shop. By hyping these events up online and spreading the word, more people will turn up and the store’s popularity will grow. So, maybe book shops don’t always need to try to protect themselves from the digital age. They can also use certain benefits of technology for their own advantage.

Finally, we must not downplay how the desires of the book-loving clients can themselves help to protect bookshops. After all, there’s nothing quite the same as seeing all your books lined up on your shelf, e-books can’t replace that. Sure, it is definitely quick and easy to buy a book online and have it ready to read within seconds. But if you do that then you lose the appeal and the benefits of having an actual physical copy of the book, and buying books online takes away the experience of feeling the book and handling it before choosing to read it. You lose some of that feeling of immersion. You lose the chance to fit that frayed hardback perfectly amongst the other books on your shelf. You lose some of the magic of reading. Anyway let’s face it, nothing can beat the smell and the feel of a real, slightly-worn out paperback book, can it?

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