Booking It

Isabella Molloy

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This past month on April 27, 2019, Independent Bookstore Day took place in Boston, MA to celebrate the indie bookstores in the city. On Independent Bookstore Day a trolley was taken to tour seven different independent bookstores. Participants had approximately twenty minutes at a location to browse before heading to the next. For some, this has become a tradition. According to Vox News, many people, like Catherine Bull of Seattle, take part in bookstore crawls more than once a year.

Catherine states that “it’s become as embedded a tradition as birthdays or Christmas.” She and her mother have visited 17 stores in a single day. For book lovers, this event is a way to share their hobby offline with others in different locations. Although Independent Bookstore Day still exists, recently, the number of independent bookstores has decreased about 13% since 1997. This drop in the number of bookstores is mainly due to companies like Amazon that possess 22.6% of the book market.On the other hand, major bookselling retailers such as Barnes & Noble have 17.3% of the market. Those who are drawn in by lower prices, free shipping, and easier access have found a way to purchase books without going to bookstores and have made it possible for Amazon to acquire such a large part, which in turn is hurting big bookstore chains like Barnes & Noble and Book World. Because companies like Amazon are forcing independent bookstores to adapt to the market, many have closed for good due to low income from a lack of customers. For many, driving to the bookstore, or any store for that matter for something that can be purchased online, 15 minutes down the road is an insufficient use of time. To go online and click some buttons to make a purchase is awfully easy and convenient. Because so many people have resorted to purchasing items off the internet, The New York Times claims that “sales in our malls have gone down this year from 30 to 60 percent…The internet is killing retail. Bookstores are just the first to go.” Because sales have gone down so much this year, countless employees have been left without jobs, not just employees of bookstores

The drop in the number of bookstores is certainly saddening. For many, as well as myself, a trip to the bookstore is an enjoyable escape. Whether it’s browsing around, attending a book club, getting a coffee, working on something, or just sitting and reading a book, many people find comfort in bookstores. A quiet and comfortable area can be hard to find these days, but bookstores have always been the perfect place to go. Especially if your local bookstore is old and antique, if that bookstore is shut down it can make those who love to visit, especially elders, have a feeling that they lost a piece of their community.

Today bookstores have been competing with and are losing to Amazon, the world’s largest online bookstore and most valuable retailer. In correlation the number of bookstores that have decreased as generations have passed, the number of people who read books at all has also gone down to due to the power of technology, specifically when televisions first started to become popular. Today, most teens will use their devices as a way to read and find other forms of entertainment. Our grandparents grew up without technology and had to do things without technology. Ever since technology’s appearance, people have found ways around driving to their local bookstore. E-books, Kindles, Nooks, and sites like Amazon all have helped those who refuse to physically shop, shop with the press of buttons.

For those who prefer going to bookstores and reading tangible books, the fall of bookstores is a major problem. Along with people visiting such places to fulfill their enjoyment, many use bookstores to buy textbooks, study guides, and guided hobby books. While they may be found online, sometimes going to a bookstore where you know you will find what you are looking for is a smarter choice than purchasing what you need, if you find it, online and waiting days for it to be delivered. Although sites like Amazon may prove easier to use as a resource for goods, places such as bookstores are good outlets for sticking to traditions, those who are not familiar with sites like Amazon, or even last minute necessities.