Retail Customer Experience: What Will Bookstores Look Like in Five Years?
By James Bickers
Through a special arrangement, presented here for discussion
is a summary of a current article from Retail Customer Experience, a
daily news portal devoted to helping retailers differentiate the shopping experience.
book store segment has already changed much in the past two decades, morphing
from stacks of books on shelves to entertainment destinations that are as much
about the coffee as anything else. But with the burgeoning e-reader market, it
looks like the coming years might bring the biggest changes it has ever seen.
think that the megastore as we know it today will disappear from many towns
and those that remain will be only in large urban centers,” said Richard
Day, publisher of Self-Councel press, which has published DIY legal books since
1971. “My expectation is that bookstores will revert to what they once
were: smaller, neighborhood stores concentrating on selling print and digital
to an audience with common genre interests. The stores may be book/coffee/tea
shop hybrids, with a while-you-wait book printing facility, digital connections
to facilitate e-book browsing and purchase, and staff who know and love the
books they sell.”
San Diego bookstore, Mysterious Galaxy, focuses its efforts
on mystery, suspense, sci-fi, fantasy and horror. Owner Mary Elizabeth Hart
believes that, as instant electronic delivery of content becomes more pervasive,
bookstores will become more about local focus and topical passion.
She said, “I
think there will be an emphasis on the community each store offers, and their
community area will be a focus, whatever their inventory combination of traditional
books, Espresso machines (a print-on-demand device that can create a book in
a few minutes) and electronic books. I think the other area of emphasis will
be our booksellers and their information. Regardless of format, readers look
to booksellers as guides among the vast quantity of available reading material
Melanie Tighe, owner of Dog-Eared Pages in Phoenix, AZ, said
the many emerging electronic options can’t replace the bookstore experience.
“The hours that can be wasted browsing shelves,” said Ms. Tighe. “The
feel of the book in your hand as you flip it over to peruse the back cover.
The spontaneous meeting of like minds reaching for the same shelf. I think
bookstores will survive, but as an endangered species, a species that needs
to be cared for by the community.”
Discussion Questions: What will the brick & mortar bookstore model look
like in five years? Are you as optimistic as the respondents in the article about
the prospects for the local book store?