Two days ago, for the first time in over a year, I walked into a bookstore because my son wanted to shop. Reading that, knowing I’m a self-described “voracious” reader, you might be appalled. Or think I’ve been living under a rock with my fictional characters. Neither is true.
Well not entirely.
The world building for my paranormal romance novels and urban fantasy adventures has kept me quite busy. And I like spending time with my characters on a daily basis. (my family would call it required time, because I get SO grumpy if I’m away from the writing for too long). And over ninety percent of my reading is done on my computer or ereader these days.
There have been a few extenuating circumstances (injury primarily) that have kept me out of brick and mortar stores, but I promise I’m not the sole cause of the general bookstore decline. In fact, based on the full parking lot, the busy coffee bar, and the humming registers, it seemed business was going well.
The local big box bookstore was a favorite haunt of mine and I miss the hours previously spent there, browsing shelves, reading to my kids, and the writer’s group that met monthly. I even did a couple signings there a few years back.
But wow, times have changed. Logically, I knew how and why things have been redesigned, but getting slapped in the face with the ereader display first thing was a bit of a shock to the senses. (and I love my ebooks!) Personally, I think the redesign is refreshing and shows they’ve built a retail world geared to serve readers of all formats.
We were there for books that aren’t available on ereaders and my son left happy with a huge sci-fi Warhammer omnibus and a book on the battles of World War II.
There were shelves and shelves of real, tangible books and it was comforting, like a bowl of soup on a rainy day, to cruise the aisles and do a bit of people watching of who was browsing where. I’d forgotten how much I enjoyed that – the books and the people.
But I was also bothered by the shelves that were empty, that the romance section is still wedged between ‘real literature’ and ‘worthy sci-fi’ and that there were several romance shelves in particular that were absolutely empty. <gasp>
So while the ereader isn’t perfect (that Warhammer book would be more manageable in digital format) and the brick and mortar store isn’t perfect (I can get so many more titles via the ereader catalogs) the trip confirmed my opinion of the current state of an industry in flux. Both brick and mortar and online ebook outlets are doing the world building necessary (via catalogs and shelf space) to feed the reader.
Kudos to our bookstore for finding a way to relate to both readers interested in digital media and readers who surge right past the giant ereader display for the stacks of hardcovers and bestsellers surrounding it.
Live the adventure!