Social Question

wundayatta's avatar

Why do book stores still exist?

Asked by wundayatta (58525points) February 1st, 2012

Physical books stores, I mean. I’m just surprised every time I see one. Surprised and delighted. I keep expecting them to turn up vacant and dusty like in the movie, “You’ve Got Mail.” But they are hanging around and I am grateful.

But how do they survive?

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17 Answers

SpatzieLover's avatar

People like to read books.

Personally, my husband and I have two Kindles, our laptops, he has an iphone. We can read books on all of them. However, we can’t share or loan out the material to friends.

We go to bookstores for date night all the time. It’s one of the only places we both like to sit and chat in with few distractions.

DominicX's avatar

Honestly, I like book stores because I like real paper books and I like to look at them in person and see what’s available. Bookstores are also just quiet pleasant places to be. But on the other hand, bookstores charge full retail or more in some cases, and that is why places like Borders are gone when people would rather get their books on Amazon (including me). It’s kind of a hard thing to keep around.

Blueroses's avatar

My favorite used book store has been in the same location for longer than I’ve been alive. It is enormous, “smells like words”, has pretty good organization on the shelves but you have to squeeze by the randomly stacked books at the end of every aisle. The owner knows where to find any book.

I love it there and apparently enough people agree to keep it going.

flutherother's avatar

Bookshops over here are closing down. They are struggling to make money. I can get Amazon to deliver obscure titles to me in days and I can get books sent to my Kindle instantly. I love browsing in my local bookstore but because they can’t always give me what I want when I want it they lose business. I would hate it if my local bookshop closed down. I should try harder to support it.

muppetish's avatar

At least one of the more popular bookstores in my area closed down last year. My mum frequents used book stores (including Library donation racks) and I volunteer at my university’s used book shop. I love used book stores. You can fetch good bargains and I love when I find things inside (bookmarks, scribblings, letters, receipts.) The best bookshop I went to was operated by a wonderful older gentlemen who could tell you about most of the books he was selling. The conversation and atmosphere makes the trip out worth it.

That said, a good 80% of the books I own were bought on Amazon. When I want something specific (not browsing for new titles) in my collection, I want it now.

Bellatrix's avatar

Because sensible people love them. They are wonderful places to while away a little or a lot of time ‘smelling’ books and flipping through pages and spending way more money than you ever intended to. Book stores are wonderful. I asked a question about book stores a few months ago because we have many less book stores here than we did. Thankfully, and as another jelly pointed out, the loss of the big chains may lead to smaller, independent book stores rising again.

Hawaii_Jake's avatar

@Blueroses : “smells like words” I love that. :)

Book stores will exist as long as there are physical books to sell.

Berserker's avatar

With the advent of technology and internetting, I haven’t actually noticed a decline with the world of books. Maybe it’s because I live in a small town, but I go to Montréal every day, and books are alive and well. What’s the impression that they might not be? Despite that, the one and only used book store we had here died some years back. I don’t take that as menace to books though, because I’ve seen so many used book stores come and go, for years.
I think they’re alive and well because even despite all that now exists that might ’‘threaten’’ to kill them, books haven’t lost their purpose, and they still offer an experience you just don’t get with what might replace them. I think it’s because the purpose and what a book is can’t be really replicated outside of what it originally is. And besides entertainment value, a lot of people still need cooking books, books for school…web programming books, irony.
I love books, I have too many, so maybe if there is a decline, I’m denying it to myself lol. But yeah, I think they’re still around because well, a lot of people still like books. I mean, we’ve had books for centuries, so they might be a hard thing to kill.

Also, what @Bellatrix says. Yeah, see. Reading a book is a fun experience that soothes someone, or might excite them. Nothing like reading ghost stories on a rainy night. Whatever one’s preferences, books cater to just about all of them. So not everyone likes to read, but I think there’s enough people who do that support the book industry.
Others like to learn, and not everyone has internet access. And even if they do…reading stimulates the brain, but doing it too long in front of a computer doesn’t feel the same. Books have established themselves in society for such reasons, among many others I’m sure.

@Blueroses Old book stores kick ass. There was one in Winnipeg called The Red River Book Store where I bought so much. I wonder if it’s still around…a friend and I were talking about it once, and she’s all like, oh that place…it smells like old book! I denno why, but that was hilarious.

I also happen to think libraries kick ass. There’s a definite feel to those I can’t quite describe. Also last Summer I went to this book convention thing in Montréal, where all these authors were gathered with their books. Books everywhere man…so maybe I don’t really know why they’re still around, but something is definitely preserving them.

Blackberry's avatar

They’re starting to close down here as well. We have to remember that e boeks are still new to the market, and not everyone wants one or can afford one. Once e readers become more of a norm, I’ll pour a shot for what used to be paper.

SpatzieLover's avatar

Kindles and Nooks don’t have book signings or private lectures, chat sessions or Q&A’s with authors. My local book sellers organize fun & informative happenings regularly.

Electronic devices are not a substitute for community.

Bellatrix's avatar

I don’t own an e-book reader yet or a tablet. I do occasionally buy ebooks and read them on my laptop, but only textbooks I need urgently. I am still torn on the reader thing. I want one, but do I really need one .. etc. etc.

I agree @SpatzieLover. I would love to create a writer’s group at my local library. Just having the time to do it and devote to me is stopping me acting. If we had a local, independent bookstore, that would be so good for book groups and the like. There are none very close to me.

HungryGuy's avatar

People like to browse books. In malls, where hordes of people congregate, there’s enough commerce to support a book store. Sometimes, I have to queue up to check out of some big box bookstores in a big mall.

Online, you have to know the exact book(s) you want. But in a bookstore, you can browse and find something interesting that you’d have never known about.

filmfann's avatar

One of the great things about a bookstore, is that you can just walk through them, and browse at books you might otherwise have never seen.
Of the last 10 books I have bought, more than half were books I didn’t know I wanted, and never heard of, until I happened upon them in a bookstore.

Soubresaut's avatar

Perhaps this discussion right here is the reason why they still exist—we all like real books, bookstores, used bookstores—and we can’t really point to a ‘reason’ because we are the reason.

That they survive because we make them survive. Because we like to carry them around, touch them, let others look at them, put them on shelves, on nightstands, stack them, hug them to our chests. We like to stand in isles surrounded by wordthoughts and wordworlds, and be able to reach out and flip through them.

I’d been getting ebooks for a while, because of convenience, because of the lack of paper. And then, as a gift from someone, I was given a real book, thick and hardcover. I almost teared up, and then felt silly for having such a strong reaction: hadn’t realized how much I’d missed the feel of the pages, [and of having real pages, not just text constantly reformatting,] of turning them, of feeling the book’s size between my fingers as it shrunk on the right, grew on the left. And the smell, I love the smell, too.

Except for textbooks. They can be virtual and thin and light, that’s perfectly fine with me. And my back’s ecstatic.

Lightlyseared's avatar

Because people but a lot of books as Christmas presents (they look more interesting under the tree than download coupon) and they make enough money in the holiday season to keep them open for another 12 months.

talljasperman's avatar

Not everyone has access to credit cards or e-readers. Best I could come up with is a Gift Card that has a maximum of $100 ; that expires in 6 months and keeps the change if you don’t purchase the full amount by that date. Also they don’t sell e-readers in my town.

zensky's avatar

Books, like CDs, make a great gift. Especially to oneself. I, for one, do not enjoy reading from a screen.

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