The Current State of Book Stores
Have you read or heard anything about bookstores lately? Well, then comment on what you heard, we may have heard the same thing.
As time continues to progress, technology continues to advance. And as all things do, these advancements will have their benefits and drawbacks. Like the common trend of having things done more efficiently ( easier) at the cost of human experience and interaction; Some industries will boom and others will decline or change.
Bookstores, unfortunately, are already taking a big hit.
Since the introduction of e-books (digitally available books) in the mid-late 1900s the literary/bookselling industry has started to evolve. And as e-book and e-reading technology progress, not only do I wonder, but many wondered how much these digital books will affect selling books, buying books, marketing books, and writing books.
E-books and e-readers are an easy example of this change. But I also think back to the invention of computers and writing software like Google Docs. Before these inventions, people hand-wrote their stories or typed them with the typewriter. Then it took way longer to type and edit books. Now, with so much writing software and fast technology, writers can practically finish a book in one year or even months.
I can imagine just how much this changed the literary industry. Many more writers could submit their work to publishers and produce more work. Imagine how that changed businesses that specialized in books, paper, pens, pencils, and stationery items over the years.
Evolving Not Declining?
I think bookstores were inevitably going to experience some sort of (initial) decline before the industry fully adapted to the digital age and its advancements. However, the Corona Virus aka Covid-19 accelerated this decline in 2019 & 2021. Many bookstores around the world went out of business or are not doing so well. Especially bookstores that follow a more traditional model.
And this is the news that has increasingly and recently gotten more attention. Have you heard about it?
But instead of a decline, I also think this is the perfect opportunity for bookstores to make their comeback. And it may require a little evolution unless all of the internet and its technology suddenly fails. Bookstores don’t have to stop being bookstores or go all-digital, because technology is not 100% reliable. But staying relevant amongst all of today’s technology requires upgrading, whatever that means that means for your store.
Now this decline may not be the case for all bookstores, but many are taking this hit.
I am a fan of bookstores and don’t want to see them wiped out. So I’ve come up with 17 things that bookstores can do to reverse they are predicted decline.
A Different Audience
All of these 17 ideas have one thing in common. They encourage you to think about the audience you sell to. To think more about how their likes and buying habits have changed. For some bookstores, it may not be enough to just appeal to people who like books. Especially if you’re in an area that has lots of bookstores.
People who read books for personal entertainment or education are the main types of customers bookstores appeal to. But today those people may include interior designers who just want to put books on their coffee tables or creators who want to put books in their at-home library for a more aesthetic background. Now, I am all about keeping the Integrity of books and appreciating books for their words and not just for their looks. But in today’s society, book buyers encapsulate lots of different kinds of people and customers. Why? Because what people do is different. How they spend their time is different. The way they prefer to consume content is different. And why they buy hard-copy books is also different.
This may mean, considering how you showcase or include other arts and technology in your bookstore design or products. And I do mean a little more than offering computers like public libraries, and internet cafes already do. Or a little more than offering records or CDs ( most people are listening to music digitally anyway. But this may work if you have some rare records and sell near records collectors).
But it could mean including music, print, broadcasting, and internet media in a way that people now use and need. I am keeping this section vague because your bookstores are in many different places and to know what people need around your books store, you’ll need to do some research and work to find out how to cater to your specific audience. And through this research, you can find unique ways to reach your audience.
The point is despite how it looks, more people may be ‘reading books’ nowadays, just not in the way you may immediately think. But if your idea tank for appealing to these audiences is dry, then keep reading.
Here Are 17 Ideas To Save Your Bookstore and Bring in Customers.
- Partner with other businesses or people that you can provide books and services in exchange for sales and customers. Like an interior design firm that you can provide books to for their deigns and room makeovers. Because bookshelves need filling.
- Go online and find your way to stand out. Digital marketing may be the key to bringing in loyal customers. Update your website, showcase your books, and revamp your shop’s blog.
- Make customer experience just as dazzling as the books bought (make your customers want to buy from your store just because of the experience they’ll have and the service they’ll receive. Interhuman experience is not something technology van replace. So use customer service to make your customers feel great buying books.
- Sell something other than books. Like bread to butter, pair your books with items that prompt readers to buy an irresistible duo or trio, or package.
- As global warming awareness spreads people are recycling and remaking their own papers. See if that business idea fits into your store. open up a paper recycling center and use that to make extra profits.
- Host events. Invite people to your store for something other than books and partner with organizations and businesses that need a cozy place for an event.
- Combine production and books for a service like an audiobook recording studio that you can rent out to independent or traditional publishers. Lots of people are self-publishing nowadays, and do you know what they may need? Studio booths for their audiobooks.
- People are paying for virtual experiences (Virtual listening parties or virtual headset parties). They’re also listening to many audiobooks. Why not combine the two ideas and make listening to books an experience people will pay for (for their book release party, friends’ night out, or date)? Like relaxing in a movie theatre with twice the amount of heartfelt narration, and without the moving pictures. This could be used to tell moving stories.
- Make your bookstore so magical that schools will want to pay for field trips there. Find a way to provide knowledge and value that schools and organizations will want to pay for.
- People love taking pictures with pretty books or a wall of pages as a backdrop. What if your store had a hall (section) of photo genic books and paper murals/art? Like a museum of books and pages sorted in weird and cool ways that people will love to see and take pictures in front of; Make the place look really nice so that people are attracted to the way by looks.
- Merch? Not just t-shirts that have your name on them. But unique products born from your store that readers and writers have been wondering about. Like a really cute brass-colored, metal material, maybe bedazzled, square-shaped bookmark I’ve been imagining. Or book spines to collect or unique items to decorate book spines, Any product that you love to produce, appeals to your audience, and sells, is a great idea.
- Appeal to a different audience, literally. Like a bookstore just for children or a bookstore just for special needs individuals. Or a braille bookstore full of everyone’s favorite books written in braille. Find an underserved audience in the bookstore industry that you can happily serve.
- Teach a class. Running a bookstore, I’m sure you have many things to offer that readers and writers would love to learn. Or a space for other teachers and classes to rent out, after regular bookstore hours.
- Offer writing/working spaces for authors and writers. (where they could write, network, and buy books).
- Sell better breakfast or lunch than generic coffee, teas, and muffins. Spice things up and make your books sore their breakfast spot and reading spot.
- Bring back more paper boys and girls. In this age as delivered items are being preferred more and more. Deliver your newspapers, newsletter issues, or books in style. Write things they’ll want to read and then deliver in style.
- What happens with all that paper people build up…open up a mini paper recycling center that you can profit from. From either going out to collect paper or having them bring it to you or both, you can sell that paper to larger recycling centers. You can also use that paper to make those pretty colored recycled papers to sell in bulk (like a pack of looseleaf) or make cute recycled paper notebooks that you can sell online and/or in-store.
Just do something cool…
Ideas To Put Your Bookstore on The Map
Some of those ideas are great. Or the whole list is ridiculous. But if none of these or only one of these caught your eye, come up with something that’ll save your books store. Use the very things that are changing the publishing industry to come up with unique and lucrative ideas. As times change find a way to stay relevant and progressively authentic: still a bookstore and cooler.
You know, I have yet to hear of a library or bookstore opening up in the Metaverse. The first or second bookstore could be yours…
Until my next words (on here that is)