Following a recent Facebook post (yes, I know not the most obvious place for inspiration), it got me thinking of something I am sure all book lovers still love – the bookshop!
I am an ultimate kindle lover – the fact that I can instantly download any book that I fancy, anytime, anywhere and that I can have hundreds of books at once is just heaven to me. But there is still a few book cravings a kindle can’t satisfy. I for one still love a book-shop! It is an Aladdin’s cave of treasures waiting to be discovered.
No.1 – has been and always will be – the smell of books. I can’t imagine anyone who does not love that smell. I even love it with new notebooks, diaries etc. A book shop should – smell of books and furniture polish.
No.2 – Furniture – somewhere to sit. Doesn’t need to be somewhere fancy with a coffee or a cuppa but some comfy chairs to have a browse through the books I am considering buying. This is especially important to me when looking through research books, which can often be big and bulky and therefore not easy to navigate through more and one and compare them whilst standing. A table beside the chairs would also be nice. This again is purely selfish but if I have a big selection of books then a table – with room on it, not packed with display books – to stack my selection on or to open them on would be a great help.
No.3 – Staff – Staff should as a minimum enjoy reading, and ideally be well read or at least willing to try and be well-read. By well-read I mean across genre’s. Think of the Apple Genius Bar for books – they might not know about everything but know where to start looking. I do value staff recommendations and think this is one area where amazon and similar companies fail – the recommended for you function isn’t great and there is no real explanation of why these are recommended (because you have bought X doesn’t help).
No.4 – Genre’s – Simple one really I like my bookshop to give me the opportunity to discover something new. I like quite a range of books from horror, historical fiction, fantasy, thriller, classical. Basically, if it’s a good story I will read it, regardless of author, writing style, time period. I love being immersed in the story and that is the basis of everything fiction that I read. However one of my main uses of bookshops now is reference books, this is where a range is such a benefit and beats online hands down. Being able to look through the books to see if the data you require is in there and to compare details between two or three books before deciding which to buy is fantastic. Although specialist genre shops are interesting.. they can feel tourist-y and although I’ll happily have a browse I know up-front what to expect so don’t get pulled into the treasure hunt that is the bookshop.
So with all that said what is the future for “the bookshop” –
I still think there is a place for bookshops but a few tweaks are needed.
For example a bookstore should become an active part of the community, Facebook and the like are perfect for this. Find out what people are reading and talking about. Bring the book clubs in store, find titles that are related to their books, ask them to contribute to reader recommendation section in store or online. Bring in local authors to talk about the craft. Host workshops to write, or bind a book. Tips on making a journal or starting a writing blog.
I would also like to see bookstore’s advance with technology. I was once in a music store which had a computer set-up for users which had a “what’s this track” button on the screen. Basically, the music playing in the store would be published behind this button, why can’t the same be done with audio-books, think BBC 4, snippets of a story playing quietly in the back-ground, and the story changing every half hour or hour? The power of advertising is undisputed.
Long live the book shop!