Good News for Bookstores?

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Over the last year or so, Poets & Writers has been profiling different indie bookstores around the country, while running a few feature stories about the return of the bookstore. One of the bookstores they profiled was Parnassus Books, run by best-selling novelist Anne Patchett. After I read the article and the nice write-up in The New York Times a few years ago, I thought, well, it’s great that Patchett’s Tennessee-based bookstore is doing so well, but is the success simply because Patchett is famous?

There is a recent poll, however, that should be good news for bookstores. Rasmussen recently found that 75 percent of American adults would rather read a print book as opposed to an e-book. It has yet to be determined whether or not this will translate into success for bookstores and perhaps the growth of small, indie bookstores in communities, but it does prove that despite the e-reader fad of the last several years, people like reading print. The poll also found that 66 percent would rather read a newspaper in print as opposed to online. What is unclear, however, is whether or not this would be true for younger people. The poll was mostly conducted through LAN lines, and most younger people only have cell phones. It would be interesting to conduct another poll, say on people ages 18-30. Would the results be different?

At the very least, the poll provides some good news for bookstores. People still like print!

Some Positive News for Bookstores

The New York Times published an article today with some surprising news regarding bookstores. Their holiday sales have been far better than expected, which could be a sign that bookstores will somehow find a way to survive in the age of the e-reader. According to the article,”Barnes & Noble, the nation’s largest bookstore chain, said that comparable store sales this Thanksgiving weekend increased 10.9 percent from that period last year. The American Booksellers Association, a trade group for independents, said last week that members saw a sales jump of 16 percent in the week including Thanksgiving, compared with the same period a year ago.”

The article also points out that books still make appealing presents, despite the growth of the e-reader, though it does state Barnes & Noble and Amazon are expected to have enormous sales for new e-readers and tablets.

For me, this article was unexpected good news. I’ve always been a fan of going to a bookstore and browsing for new purchases. I like plucking a book of poetry off the shelf and being able to turn the pages to get a sense of the writer’s style and form. Furthermore, I enjoy the community aspect bookstores hold, how familiar customers often stop at the cafes to chat with each other or read. A lot of my writing in the past has been done at bookstore cafes, and I’d like to see them stick around for the long haul.