Bye-Bye Bookstores

Rachel Kent

Blogger: Rachel Kent

Our agency received a notification in the mail yesterday from The United Methodist Publishing House about the closing of the 56 Cokesbury stores nationwide. This closure has also been reported online on sites like ECPA.org. The mailing about the closure is upbeat and describes the changeover to CokesburyNext–a four-part sales solution. The four parts include a phone call center, online stores, conference sales, and a direct-to-churches sales team. They aren’t going out of business, but they are changing their business to fit with consumer preferences.

I don’t like to be depressing, but no matter how optimistic we are we have to see this as one more sign that the bookstore might become a thing of the past if it can’t develop a unique contribution to the book buyer’s life. The internet is such a strong force and online companies like Amazon.com and Christianbook.com make it easy to quickly buy a book at a great price without leaving the house. Bookstores can’t offer a big enough discount to compete with these online retailers–especially when services like Amazon Prime make the shipping practically free.

I love bookstores! Browsing is such a pleasure, and I love finding a new favorite author through the one or two books I buy per visit. But even I–a bookstore and book lover–am not going to bookstores all that frequently. I have a Kindle, and the draw of the convenience of the internet is strong. I probably go to a bookstore six times a year (once every two months).

As authors and readers, what do we do about this shift in the book industry? I suggest two things:

1) Support our local bookstores! Even with the decline in bookstores, the remaining stores are very important parts of the publishing industry. Buy books from the store and do book-signings or speaking engagements at the store too. If a book club or local group wants you to speak to them, see if you can arrange to have the meeting at the bookstore or to have the bookstore set up a table at the back of the event instead of bringing in your own books to sell.

2) While supporting the remaining stores, remember to face the reality that the bookstore sales avenue is slowing  down. Find new ways to help your publisher sell your books. Get creative with marketing and find out what works well to reach your audience.

Did you have a Cokesbury store near you?

How many times per year would you say you visit a bookstore?

How do you feel about bookstores possibly disappearing? Do you think it’s time to move on, or should we try to save them?

 

 

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78 Comments

  • I love bookstores and frequent them often. I tell myself I’m just going to have a coffee and browse, but 9 times out of 10, I buy a book. I’ve never been in a Cokesbury.

  • Never even heard of Cokesbury. But je ne suis une Americane.
    We used to have 2 Christian bookstores in town, but one couldn’t keep up, which was a total bummer! So now we’re down to one.
    There is something visceral about browsing and smelling paper and ink, I love it!! I go about 3 times a month and lose myself for who knows how long. It’s funny, being a one income family with one kid in college and 2 in $$$sports$$$ we’re VERYVERYVERY careful with our spending. BUT I could go buy the kids and myself 3 books each and nobody blinks.
    I don’t think there’ll ever be a time when bookstores become extinct.

  • Sarah Thomas says:

    I think the key to keeping bookstores viable is making them MORE than bookstores. We have an independent bookstore in town that has a great little coffee shop and hosts tons of events from readings by NY Times bestselling authors to local book club meetings. They’ve done an amazing job of becoming a hub of activity for book lovers of all stripes. They give me hope! Check ‘em out http://malaprops.com/

    • I feel that way too. We have one very active bookstore a few towns over. It’s also in a college town, so that helps.

    • I agree 100%. We have one near us that’s also a natural food store and has a little cafe nook in it. Seems smart to me!

    • Rachel Kent Rachel Kent says:

      I agree and I hope more bookstores move in this direction!

    • Oh, absolutely. Those quirky little nooks where coffee and delightful conversations take place over poetry and YA book recs? They’re the key in keeping bookstores alive. It’s because they’re an experience in and of themselves. My husband and I frequent this kind of place on most of our date nights, because their isn’t much that we enjoy more than coffee and books.

      I’m worried about how they’ll do in this dwindling economy, though, and major booksellers don’t have the character and ambience to make them as enjoyable an experience. (Says the girl who still leaves with a book every time).

      Great discussion, Rachel. Thanks for posting on such a timely topic.

  • Confession time: there’s a Cokesbury store about three miles down the road from me, but the only time I’ve been there is for signings (which were dismal, because there was no traffic). I buy many of my books online, with a few trips to the two closest brick-and-mortar stores (a Mardel and a B&N). Hate to see the stores close, but I’m not surprised. The times they are a-changin’.

    • Rachel Kent Rachel Kent says:

      It seems like it is pretty hard for authors to get good bookstore signing traffic even without a bad location. Thanks for your confession! I’ve never seen a Cokesbury store so I was wondering if anyone would live near one.

  • Rachel, I hear a lot of writers talking about how important bookstores are, but why is that? Why is it so important that we support our bookstore?

    If we talked about this six or more years ago, I would have completely agreed. I had two preschoolers at home every day, and from time to time I would escape in the evening to a bookstore to browse the shelves. I rarely used Amazon.

    Then we moved. Now the closest bookstore is half an hour away. And Amazon is a click away.

    I still buy the same amount of books now as I did then. I still give my wonderful husband a list of book titles for Christmas gifts, and he usually buys them all for me. And I never feel that browsing is a problem because I have a few blogs that do a fabulous job of showing the new CBA stuff that’s out there.

    I feel for store owners who are going out of business because that’s their livelihood. But times are tough for a lot of people, and I can’t take it upon myself to spend a bit more there to make a tiny difference.

    Is it just the fear that Amazon will take over that makes people in the publishing industry concerned?

    • Larry says:

      I never understood that myself. What is the difference between a few online megastores being the go-to place for books, versus a few brick-and-mortar megastores?

      • I think the difference is this: I often go to a bookstore to browse, and end up buying books I’d not been looking for. I go into sections (history, philosophy) I don’t usually go into, just based on where my feet take me. When I buy from Amazon (or for my Kindle), I generally am after a specific title, one I’ve seen previewed somewhere. While I have “browsed” on Amazon, it’s not the same.

    • Rachel Kent Rachel Kent says:

      This is why I asked my last question up there, Sally. I’m not sure that they are necessary, but I do think that many readers do love bookstores and I believe in trying to help the owners not go bankrupt. I want to support bookstore owners because they obviously share a love of books and they are getting good books in the hands of readers, but bookstores might just be a thing of the past pretty soon.

  • Rachel, my closest bookstore is 30 minutes away, so I don’t get there often. When I do get to visit, I do buy, but I usually come out depressed. Apparently, bookstore staff members have forgotten what all other service industry professionals have forgotten — kindness. Would it be so terrible to smile at the customer? Say thank you? At least appear to be friendly? When I shop online, I’m not confronted with the sour face of someone who looks like they would have a better time at the dentist’s office. Granted, this was not a Christian bookstore, but there was a time when even non-Christians knew the value of kindness. This question makes me think of the movie You’ve Got Mail! Yes, save the bookstores, and then fill them with smiling people who will only add to the pleasure of browsing, buying, and reading.

    • Jeanne T says:

      Love that movie, Meghan! Who knew it would be semi-prophetic with Foxx Books being replaced by Amazon?

    • Yes! This! I don’t shop at the local bookstores very much because nobody in there knows anything about books. Only once have I asked for help and gotten a helpful, nice person. Every other time they’re rude, ignore me, or never come back after they “go check something in the back”.

      Even at Lifeway they tend to be rude if you’re in there looking at fiction, so I don’t bother. Books-A-Million half a block down the street has a Christian fiction section twice the size of Lifeway’s. But they’re the store I described first.

      Why should I put up with that when I don’t have to? That’s why I shop online.

    • Rachel Kent Rachel Kent says:

      Lol! I never thought of the You’ve Got Mail connection.

      And I’ve had similar experiences at my local Christian bookstore. I think because bookstores aren’t doing very well that the employees might be a little disgruntled with the pay.

  • Lisa says:

    I love bookstores. My whole family loves to go and browse books. I think if they offer more: places to sit and work or visit, coffee, story times it helps. This makes it a place to go for fun. In Michigan winter a favorite get out the house activity is for us to visit the bookstore.

    I understand that things are changing. But, I hope their are still bookstores. I would be sad if they all faded :(

  • I love the feel of bookstores and dream about seeing my books on their shelves one day. But I have to admit…I can’t remember the last time I actually bought a book there. They literally are about $5 more than on Amazon. I used to go more frequently to write, etc., but Barnes and Noble removed or covered all of their power plugs, I guess to encourage people to not come and take up space in the coffeeshop area all day. Seems a stupid move to me, because now I just go to Starbucks instead.

    I really should make more of an effort to support my local Christian stores, though. It’s a hard toss up between supporting the stores and supporting more authors (since I’d have more money to spend if I bought the books on Amazon, thus able to support more authors).

    • Rachel Kent Rachel Kent says:

      Wow, that does seem like a stupid move on their part! Why discourage shoppers from hanging out in the store? I don’t get it.

  • I’m with Sarah. I think bookstores will have to offer more to stay in business. I love, love bookstores. I could browse for hours and I end up buying 3-5 books every trip. I do not want them to close down, but the Internet is too easy and the price is lower.

    Recently I was at a writers conference and I talked to representatives of Mardel and they informed me of a unique feature of their stores. They actually have an onsite book printer machine called On Demand Books.

    It sounds great. If the store doesn’t carry a certain book, the customer can have it printed on site in about five minutes. Writers can also have copies of their books published as well. I think this feature is a unique way to stay a step ahead of closure. Neat.

    I do buy books online sometimes because there isn’t a bookstore in my town :( and I find better prices, but I still prefer to purchase from bookstores and enjoy the whole experience.

  • Tari Faris says:

    I like the idea of bookstores and remember great memories of hanging out there with friends in my college and grad school days. But the reality now is that with three small kids often underfoot, I rarely find time to go let alone be able to browse at a bookstore.
    When I do, I am very hesitant to buy because too often the compelling cover draws me in but the story is a disappointment.
    When I buy online I can click to the reviews and get a general idea if I’d like the book.
    I hate to think of them disappearing but I am not sure it’s because I still want them around or because of the memories. I also hate the idea that my kids will never have the bookstore experiences like I did.

  • Jana Hutcheson says:

    We used to have a huge Books-A-Million in our town with several large sitting areas, but they tore it down a year ago to build a Publix. The new BAM is much smaller and doesn’t have the sitting areas. I understand why they did it, but it still makes me sad. That used to be how my husband and I spent our “date night”. We’d go out to eat then spend an hour or so sitting around looking at books at the bookstore. I feel partially responsible though, because I do buy a lot of books on my Kindle. It’s just more convenient, plus it’s easier to lay in bed and read from a Kindle than it is to try and hold up a hardcover book.

  • Jeanne T says:

    I like your ideas for helping bookstores, Rachel. I agree with so much of what’s been said. I love bookstores, and could easily get lost in one for hours. I do not find myself buying a lot of books, though, because of their prices. I don’t want them to go out of business, but it does seem like they will have to market themselves as more than bookstores to keep their doors open. Sigh.

  • Jenny Leo says:

    Count me among the bookstore lovers! Love how they smell, love the sight of rows and rows of books. No better place to spend a leisurely afternoon.
    In our rural area, the nearest Christian bookstore is almost an hour away. My trips there are infrequent but spendy, because when I’m there I tend to stock up. Since the demise of Borders, the nearest B&N is even farther away. There is a small independent bookstore nearby, but it’s very no-frills, doesn’t have a great selection, and there’s no place to sit. Not conducive to browsing. I seldom find what I’m looking for there, but I have had them order books for me. Even though it’s simpler to order online or through Kindle, I have two purposes in ordering through this local bookstore: to give them some business (my town doesn’t need any more empty storefronts), and to show the owners that there IS local demand for Christian and conservative-themed books, a market they tend to “overlook.”

  • Lacee Hogg says:

    I have lived in rural places most of my life and therefore, always far away from bookstores. As soon as I discovered Amazon, most of my book purchases came from there. However, some of my favorite memories as a child are the special treats of going to a Barnes and Noble or local Christian bookstore in a city near our town and finding new treasures.

    • Rachel Kent Rachel Kent says:

      I hope I get to take my kids and grandkids to bookstores and spoil them with books. An outing to the bookstore just seems like much more fun than reading off a credit card number to my child as he/she is ordering books online.

  • I don’t have a Cokesbury–or any other Christian bookstore–near me. I’ve ordered from them online, though.

    If I step inside a bookstore twice a year, that’s a lot. I don’t enjoy shopping, which is part of the issue, but the closest bookstore–indie or chain–is half an hour away. I don’t want to spend my time that way.

    I honestly don’t know how, or if, bookstores can be saved in the end; though the active ones seem to be doing better than most. It’s like record stores. Technology is moving us beyond them. The nostalgic side of me says to do whatever it takes to keep them. The busy mom in me feels okay with them going by the wayside, except for the loss the jobs. Things are tough enough as it is without adding more to the unemployment roster.

  • Elissa says:

    I live on the edge of nowhere. The closest bookstore is over 100 miles away (though one of our village shops carries a small selection of books). I think I go to an actual bookstore once or twice a year.

    I must say, I love bookstores. Browsing Amazon is nothing like walking the aisles in a physical bookstore. I probably buy twice as many books when I’m in a “real” store as when I’m shopping online.

    But I think it’s more important for booksellers to change with the times and continue selling books, in whatever form those books take, than for them to cling to nostalgia. If most people won’t go to a physical store to buy a book, it’s a definite sign that the sellers must change or go out of business.

  • Sarah Sundin says:

    I’m blessed to have a big and wonderful Christian bookstore and a Barnes & Noble within a 15-min drive. I visit about 2-3 times a month. While online shopping is fabulous if I’m looking for a specific title, I find browsing isn’t as pleasant or fruitful online.

    To support my local stores, I chat them up. When people are interested in buying my books, I always refer them to the local stores first and mention the store will be happy to order if they don’t have the book in stock.

    Also, B&N stores will order books online for you, and if you’re a member, it’ll ship straight to your house for free. And the store gets the sale credit! So I drop in and make most of my “online” purchases this way. And my B&N loves me :)

  • I don’t like it either. I did several books signing at Borders and will miss the opportunity in the future. I LOVE bookstores! Like you said browsing through and finding a new author.It is actually fun to go to the bookstore.

    We don’t have a Cokesbury here but it sounds lovely.

  • Ann Bracken says:

    It’s sad to see another bookstore close. I’ve never heard of Cokesbury, but I’m sure it will be missed.

    I was going to say that the worst part of losing bookstores is that my grandchildren will never get to experience that bookstore smell, or have someone they can ask who will recommend books of the correct age and genre. Then I thought about libraries. They do that and more.

    We have three bookstores in my area, two Christian and the ubiquitous B&N. None seem in danger yet, but who’s to say what will happen in another five years? I think others are right, if the bookstores hope to survive they’ll need to offer more than books (Deseret Book has a wonderful pastry section, mmmmm).

  • Wendy Lawton Wendy Lawton says:

    But there is a little bit of good news as well. I heard last week that Lifeway will be opening new stores this year. Sounds like they think the worst is over and it’s time to expand again.

    We lost our long time Christian bookstore and the Borders in our closest town last year. We thought we said goodbye to any bookstores closer than 25 miles. Lo and behold, a new Christian bookstore opened up near our Costco. Seems to be doing very well.

  • Brian Taylor says:

    I’m originally from Maryland, so I was familiar with Cokesbury. Since moving south, I don’t believe I’ve seen one anywhere remotely near me. I loved going into the store to purchase my books.

    However, I’m also more accustomed to purchasing my books from secular venues because they were closer in proximity to where I did live. With many churches now choosing to have their own stores so that members can get materials they desire, I see the need for places such as Cokesbury to change their business strategies.

    I’m still a fan of places like Lifeway, but with the ease of downloadable materials that can be utilized by tablets and laptops, I often opt for online sources. There is still a desire the have a good customer service and interaction that can be found by going into an actual brick and mortar shop, so I hope that this latest decision doesn’t completely put the nail in the coffin for others who are holding on to hope of customers who prefer that option.

  • Larry says:

    I am really, really glad to see physical bookstores closing.

    They are part of the reason the industry is so convoluted:

    Store owners are naturally interested in selling product, making money, and not closing down. They are interested in pushing product which they believe will sell: this serves to reinforce the “blindness of the bland”, where agents, editors, and publishers are more inclined to look at manuscripts which are appealing to what they believe they feel the market wants. One doesn’t even have to comment on whether this is “right” or “fair” or whatever: it simply is the nature of the game.

    Physical bookstores push bland product, giving it prime space on the floor and on shelves, resulting in higher sales for those products, agents, editors, and publishers see those books sell so they accept more books like that, book store owners accept from publishers the books they feel will sell so they give those books prime real estate…..lather, rinse, repeat.

    As a writer, physical bookstores offer more of stumbling block than a platform for potential sales.

    As a book buyer, I dislike the practice of not having a free market: instead forced into one where certain genres and authors are allowed to literally corner the market-place for their product from the start.

    Let them tumble brick-by-brick, and let those who wish to build a monument to the past do so if they desire.

    I’ll be too busy on my Kindle to notice. ;)

    • Rachel Kent Rachel Kent says:

      Interesting perspective! I do see a trend in the types of books that bookstores put on the shelf, but readers are buying those books. I’m not sure how much influence the bookstore has over what the reader buys or if the majority of readers just like those types of books.

  • I tend to visit bookstores when I want a certain book right away and can’t wait the few days it takes to ship after release day.

    There’s something exciting about walking into a bookstore after waiting for a title, finding it on the shelves, and walking out, book in hand.

    The other reason I visit bookstores is for children’s books. I still haven’t made the jump to Kindle Fire so I don’t buy kids’ books via Kindle. Plus, even with Amazon’s Look In feature, I still feel the need to page through a book I’m buying for my boys. They’re picky and I’m better able to tell if they’ll like the book when I can physically explore it cover to cover before I buy it.

    We have a lovely Mardel in town and several B&Ns who’ve treated us wonderfully when we’ve had booksignings. We try our best to love on the employees. Their jobs are hard!

  • I confess, I rarely go to the brick and mortars, but when I do I am sorely disappointed. I rarely find the authors I read or the books I want and when I do, they have costed up to twice as much. I would suggest business owners who want to continue must adapt in some way. Just as authors and publishers have adapted to this new reality. We can’t stick our head in the sand and say it won’t change. We need to say, how can we survive with the shift. I would like to see them survive because I just love the FEEL of a book store. The first Borders I entered was small, but had books floor to ceiling with ladders to get to them. I was in awe. My heart pounded in my chest. I’d love a place that could do that again … but it will need to do more than sell books I could get easier and cheaper elsewhere.

  • Re your blog, Rachel, I didn’t think bookstores–at least B&N–would allow one to bring their own books, hence Baker&Taylor or Ingrams. Self-publishers behare when choosing how to publish your book because, if it won’t barcode scan or isn’t returnable, you’re out of luck. I tried to set up a book signing for the other members of my writing group who had published but hadn’t done any book signings. The local Books-a-Million couldn’t order any of their books because of the aforementioned. Because I set myself up as a small publisher and have an account with B&Taylor, BAM ordered my books. My message is, if U choose the self-pub route, know all the facts before you make your decision. It’s called “due diligence.”

    • Rachel Kent Rachel Kent says:

      I meant bringing your own books to signings elsewhere, not at a bookstore. Like if you were doing a signing at a church or library. Sorry that wasn’t clear!

  • Jenna C. says:

    Wow…there’s closing bookstores now?? I like buying stuff from bookstores! It’s nice to be surrounded by books…feel the books in your hand..and all of that good stuff…I could spend a whole day in a bookstore! I usually go to bookstores throughout the year…I don’t go as much as I would like to…but I would if I could!

  • I have always been and will continue to be a strong supporter of my local bookstore, Barnes and Noble. Why? Because they support me as writer with events. Because they create real jobs in my community and participate in community efforts like providing children’s books to the underprivileged. Because they offer a unique experience for the book lover in a welcoming atmosphere that can’t be found anywhere else. I take my support of Barnes and Noble pretty far. I am a member so that when I do order online, I get a nice discount and free express shipping. But I buy from the local store when I don’t need something instantly. And my ereader is a Nook. Why? Again, because of the local connection. If I have a problem (I never have), I can get help from real humans in a real place. The internet is a great place, but nothing can replace the local book store. I’m doing what I can to see that they don’t go away, because they enrich my life and they give back to the community in ways that online “communities” never will.

    • Rachel Kent Rachel Kent says:

      Thank you, Stephanie! It’s so neat that you and Sarah Sundin have great connections with your local Barnes & Noble stores. Those stores aren’t even Christian bookstores and yet they are supporting two CBA authors! I love it!

      • Sarah Sundin says:

        I know! And I’m in northern California – hardly a Christian enclave :)But my local B&N is wonderful. They set up multiple signings and link them with school book fairs to get cross-promotion. When my most recent book released in September, they set up a special display at the customer service desk! They hand sell my books. And it pays off for them too. The local connection sells well, and they’re smart enough to grasp hold of it.

  • Lanny says:

    I’m afraid the business model for bookstores is going the same way as video rental stores–to failure. However, I hope not, because I frequent bookstores anytime I’m around them. Surely, a niche can be carved for some of them, particularly in bigger cities.

  • Peter DeHaan says:

    I love book stores but don’t go often — because I do too much impulse buying. I’ve been once this year and it was to attend a book signing.

    It would be nice if we can keep bookstores around, but only the ones who can find a niche or “unique selling proposition” will survive. And the pressure will mount if/when Amazon can pull off same day delivery.

    (By the way, I’ve never heard of Cokesbury.)

  • I’ve only been to Cokesbury for signings… it’s just not as busy (or exciting) as B & N or even Family Christian in our area. That said, while I buy 95% of my books online (Kindle), I love a trip to Barnes and Noble or Family Christian with my kids. They love to explore and learn and I love showing them one of my favorite places.

    Great post, Rachel!

    • Rachel Kent Rachel Kent says:

      Thank you!

      You and Richard both said that the Cokesbury stores were less busy and less exciting. I wonder if all of their stores were that way. Maybe they were doing something wrong and Lifeway and Family Christian have figured out a better sales plan.

  • I am a small book shop lover, for sure, but when we served on the mission field in Central Europe, choices in English were seriously limited. I already have a library full of classics, and that’s all we could get our hands on in Poland and Lithuania. Over there, Amazon.uk became my best friend. Although I love the Quirky Bookstore Experience, wherever and however I get my books, I won’t stop buying them. I see things changing for the industry–partially because of the economy, but also because of the e-book and the ease of one-click ordering. I tend to buy books for myself in person, when I’m browsing the shelves, coffee-in-hand on a date night with my husband. The other book-buying I do–for my kids and for educational purposes–is all online. I’m thankful for the diversity in the book market as a whole.

    • Rachel Kent Rachel Kent says:

      I like to have book buying options too! It’s nice to have access to so many titles online, but shopping locally is fun.

  • Scott says:

    There are two universities, one of them major, within right miles of my house. And yet there are no secular independent bookstores in the entire county. There is a Barnes and Noble and a couple of small used bookstores, and a few religious bookstores. We used to have a cool independent store that hosted readings and local music, but they are gone now. So is Borders.

    The main reason I bought a Nook instead of a Kindle is to try to help keep B&N from the same fate as Borders, e even though their customer service is pretty abysmal. There were other reasons, but keeping a bookstore around was the big one.

    • Rachel Kent Rachel Kent says:

      It sure is sad that in a college town there are so few bookstores! I would think that a bookstore with a coffee shop could easily stay in business in a college town, but maybe the draw of Starbucks is too strong.

  • I’m a huge fan of bookstores. Spending time in them relaxes me and gives me joy. For me, buying a book online is like eating cold fish. There is nothing satisfying about it to me. I want more than a picture of the book cover, a synopsis and some reviews. I want to be able to pick the book up, turn the pages and read random pages. Buying a book from Barnes and Noble is much easier online. I can choose the book, pay for it and have it delivered to my house. However, I prefer to drive to the Barnes and Noble (about 20-30 minutes depending on traffic) and have fun exploring. I invariably come away with a book, and often more than one. That’s my biggest problem: if I go into a bookstore, I will buy a book, so I have to limit how often I go. On the other hand, I have looked through books online and rarely ever bought one. There is more to life than convenience. I would hate to see bookstores go the way of soda fountains and record stores. (Record stores were my other weakness. Basically I hate to shop, but whenever I had to go to the mall for something, I never missed the opportunity to go into the bookstore and the record shop–and always purchased something in one of those even if I didn’t buy what I went to the mall for.)

    Thank you for bringing up this topic, Rachel. Also, the point about how closing bookstores results in lost jobs is extremely important. I was laid off from my position as a full-time faculty member at a college. Thank God I was able to get a position as a part-time adjunct professor at another college, but I don’t make a living wage. I have been trying to get full-time work or at least another part-time job for the last year and a half and have not been able to. All of these people who are about to lose their jobs need prayers. I guarantee that most of them will not be able to get another job immediately, and some of them may be their family’s sole wage earner.

    Blessings!

    • Rachel Kent Rachel Kent says:

      Thanks for the reminder, Christine! You are right that this is a huge hit for many people and it’s happening right before the holidays. Very sad.

  • I live in a small town and our local Christian book stores closed several years ago. There are no big box ones except for the book section in K-Mart, but there are still a few small, privately owned ones and they seem to be doing okay. The second-hand bookstores also get lots of customers. Our town usually has over a dozen people lined up and waiting for the library to open in the morning so there are lots of bookaholics here.
    I think when the economy improves more people might buy hard copy books, but they’re expensive. I have some paperbacks from the 1960s that cost $.95 and now they’d be around $15. Of course inflation is a factor, but I wish they could cut production costs for books. Then maybe they could sell more.

  • I haven’t visited a bricks and mortar bookstore in years. Why? When I did go, they never had the books I wanted, always carrying what was popular to others. I was also disgusted by the worthless nicknacks in Christian bookstores, taking up valuable space that could have held books that I wanted to read. My books come from Amazon, sometimes CBD, and the library.

  • Tim Klock says:

    A real, genuine bookstore opened in my town last week. It’s unheard of these days. (I live in So. Cal.) I plan to support them and be great friends. They have book signings, book readings, writers groups and all kinds of cool stuff planned. I just pray they make it, with all of the mega stores, and even some of those going under due to all of the electronic gadgets.

  • David Spaugh says:

    I think bookstores, by and large, will go the way of the blacksmith and the telegraph. Technology changes dictate the way we market and communicate, like it dictates changes in every other area of human activity. Bookstores, for good or bad, are not immune to the same forces that put an end to numerous other items and technologies. The owner of our local Christian bookstore told me he closed because he couldn’t compete with Amazon and CBD. By my own admission, that’s where I do my shopping because the prices are better, and I don’t have to travel 10+ miles and burn gas. It makes economic sense, and I can get the same books without leaving the comfort of my home.

  • As much as I detest the words I’m about to write, I think the bookstore as we know it is stuck on the Titanic.

    I LOVE going to a Barnes & Noble and looking at books for hours. But five years from now? Huh uh. Ain’t going to be possible.

    I love the idea of us all supporting our local bookstore, but it won’t be enough. (Stick You’ve Got Mail in the DVD player for a refresher course on the way business works. (And it is ironic that the Fox Books’ of the world are now facing the same problem the independent stores have.))

    The title of your post sums it up.

  • Like many of the other commenters, I love bookstores. My closest one is thirty minutes away, and the Internet is just one second. I’d say I go once every two months now, and I used to go every two weeks.

    I was terribly sad when the big chains took out half of their best seller sections to sell e-readers. I think this was the attempt to change with the market, but they still aren’t thinking outside the box to stay relevant.

    They’ll have to meet a need to keep business alive. I don’t know what that need is yet, and even though I love coffee and pastries, I don’t think they’re enough. People didn’t know they needed smart phones until they existed; the booksellers are going to have to figure out what readers need, that they can’t order on the Internet, and that they’re willing to get out of their houses to browse and buy.

  • Reba says:

    Sadly but true, the number of book stores are getting less.
    Also, I don’t think most readers/buyers realize when you buy a book on line, the author gets very little of that money.
    So let’s not only support the book stores, but the authors as well.

  • Working at a used bookstore for six years gave me a different perspective on the value of supporting local business. Our customers became good friends. We knew them and what they were looking for, and they rewarded us with various baked goods and loyal patronage. I still remember with fondness the musty smell of the ‘stacks’, reading author bios while cleaning books, and meeting a title I didn’t know I needed until it came across my desk.

    Yesterday’s Books in Modesto, CA is still in business because they are experts in the book business, have rapport with their customers, and they are utilizing social media to their benefit.

  • Nikole Hahn says:

    Me, too. We had a new store open up here and we still have Hastings, but I think if bookstores want to stay in business they are going to have to sell other things, too.

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