Everyone talks about how the internet is the big bad wolf out to destroy the livelihoods of the humble bricks-and-mortar businesses but to do so means you are missing the purpose and opportunities that come with the internet, in particular social media.
To be fair, to say the internet hasn’t blown down the bookstores made of straw and wood, would be misleading. It’s now cheaper to order physical copies online or better yet, download a copy of the novel onto your e-reader, and multiple bookstores have closed as a result; Borders and Angus&Robertson no longer exist in Australia.
But only focusing on this aspect ignores the fact that some people enjoy physically browsing bookstores, most likely based on the same rationale as to why some people will always prefer a physical copy of the book, than an e-book.
Independent bookstores have the ability to tailor their service and book selection to the local demographic and encourage intimacy and familiarity with its customers.
Independent bookstores can then take these traits and combine it with the power of social media to deliver a unique service that should improve and retain customer loyalty.
I like browsing through the shelves and making new discoveries. I like reading the staff recommendations. I like being exposed to the unique range at independent bookstores that I probably won’t be able to elsewhere.
I think if you enjoy reading, and I mean really enjoy it, so it’s not just the story you’re after, but the feel of the novel, the smell of the books, the fact that you secretly enjoy plans getting cancelled so you can read, you’ll want the entire reading experience. And independent bookstores can capitalise on that by freshening up their business model to reach out and connect to wider audience.
The New York Times wrote a fantastic article on this, this point of view is so refreshing from the usual Luddite views associated with technological advances.
The New York Times: The Neighborhood Bookstore’s Unlikely Ally? The Internet. http://google.com/newsstand/s/CBIwteLfrS4