Posted August 11, 2017
KiCam Projects strives to change the world through true stories that inspire and inform.
February 18, 2016
Amazon has long been known for driving traditional bookstores out of business, and yet, reportedly has plans to open 300-400 physical bookstore locations of its own following the opening of its first store in Seattle. During a recent podcast, Wall Street Journal tech reporter Greg Bensinger said that opening 300-400 stores would make Amazon the number 2 brick and mortar book retailer after Barnes & Noble and that customers can expect to pay the same price for a book in the Amazon bookstore as they would on Amazon.com, which tends to be less than you pay in other physical bookstores today.
Miriam Sontz, CEO of one of America’s best-known chains of bookstores, Powell’s, considers Amazon opening physical bookstore locations to be a wonderful affirmation from one of the largest online retailers that there is a value to a physical bookstore that no online presence has ever been able to replicate. She says it’s a wonderful nod to all of the independent bookstores and other independent retailers around America, an affirmation that they have something special.
Of course, there are pros and cons to shopping for books in physical bookstores (versus online). Let’s take a look:
Ability to look at and thumb through books
When you visit a physical bookstore you are able to pick up the books and thumb through the pages. You can even begin reading the book to see if it “hooks” you. Online retailers may offer a preview of a few pages, but in a bookstore you can select any pages you’d like to read.
Sense of community
Similar to a library, a bookstore is a place for bookworms to congregate. Bookstores hold events such as author readings and book signings that create goodwill in the community. In addition to picking out a new book, there is usually more going on in the store for a visitor to enjoy.
Cater to a local audience
Physical bookstore locations, specifically small, independent bookstores, are able to cater their offerings to the local audience, something that an online retailer can’t easily do.
The emotional connection
It’s nearly impossible to recreate the feeling you get walking into a physical store as opposed to shopping online. Maybe the bookstore reminds you of something: like your first trip to the library or one of the first books you fell in love with. Maybe it’s the fun of losing track of time as you browse. Maybe it’s just the smell of the books. Especially for those who love to read, just being in a bookstore is an emotional experience, one that online retailers are hard pressed to replicate.
Because an online retailer doesn’t have the overhead and other costs associated with operating a store, it is typically able to sell books for less.
Less access to reviews
When purchasing a book online a consumer can easily scroll the sales page to read reviews. These reviews can help them decide whether to purchase the book or not. Yes, people can pull up reviews on their phone or other device while they are in a store, but it’s much less convenient.
A brick and mortar store only has so much space, which means their inventory is more limited. If you are looking for a very popular book it might be sold out. Or, the store might not carry a more obscure title.
As you can see, there are reasons to buy from a brick and mortar bookstore and from an online book retailer. When buying a physical book, which do you prefer? Shopping online or visiting a store, or a combination of both?