Sunday, May 17, 2015

Oh, Bookstores! I Love Thee

The light was shining through tall, aged windows.  The scores of tables lining the cafeteria of the four-floored building were filled to capacity.  The air stirred with the buzz of congregated literates.  I was at the bookstore, sitting in an oasis of fellow book-lovers, truth-seekers, and the assertively inquisitive.  This store (Barnes & Noble in Union Square)  is arguably at the center of Manhattan, a borough that is the center of the nation’s biggest and best city, in the country that is seen as the greatest in the world.  I was in the middle of everything right where I was, surrounded by so many books on a variety of subjects.  Could one be in a better place?

The bookstore is the eighth natural wonder in the world.  Yes, natural.  The pursuit of knowledge and the hunger for answers and to make our lives better is a natural instinct.  It’s expressed perfectly in the form of a bookstore!

This is nothing against those who enjoy e-books or find using Amazon is convenient and inexpensive, but nothing beats the bookstore experience.  It’s like going to a theater or a concert or a comedy show.  When you come here it all seems familiar and comfortable but each book provides something new.  Maybe it’s more like church, where the congregants gather to create their state of mind and communal connection.  Patrons of the bookstore do the same.

The bookstore is so different from most other stores.  First, bookstores have seating areas, whether to sit for sampling the goods with coffee or to hear an author speak.

Second, their product involves self-improvement, knowledge, fantasy, history, and every important aspect of life.  You can get books that you want or need – or discover ones you didn’t know existed.

Third, the customers are self-selected.  Anyone can come to a bookstore, but it draws the intelligent-minded, answer-seeking type of person.  So when you walk the floor to search for a book you are rubbing shoulders with others who share in your love for words, ideas, and interesting experiences.

Fourth, it welcomes all ages, from bright-eyed toddlers tumbling upon board and picture books to seniors still hungry to find something new and interesting.

Bookstores not only bring society together but they help create the society that we need.  I just can’t imagine a world without bookstores.  We must never commoditize our beloved books nor fully switch over to all-digital, all the time.  We need printed books and physical stores, perhaps more than we realize.  Music stores are just about gone.  Movie theaters are under threat.  The need for libraries is questioned.  Don’t let bookstores fall apart or give away to futuristic dystopian notions.

How can we support bookstores?
1.      Go to visit them – often.  Spend money there, not only on books but on things you could otherwise get elsewhere, such as greeting cards.

2.      Encourage others to visit or congregate at the bookstore – and push them to make purchases.

3.      Give out gift cards to the store as presents when you need to buy something for friends, family, and colleagues.

4.      Bring you children and grandchildren to the bookstore.  See it as an event, a thing to do.  Introduce them to authors speaking and signing at the store.  Let them see the bookstore as special.

5.      Encourage your local bookstore to improve – hold more events, sell books it hadn’t been offering, and to train and hire good workers who make the bookstore experience special and easy going.

6.      Buy your books at a bookstore instead of an online vendor.

Lastly, feel the magic in the air at a bookstore, and use it to inspire great writing to flow from your pen or laptop.  Maybe the store will one day carry your book!

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Brian Feinblum’s views, opinions, and ideas expressed in this blog are his alone and not that of his employer. You can follow him on Twitter @theprexpert and email him at He feels more important when discussed in the third-person. This is copyrighted by BookMarketingBuzzBlog © 2015

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