I have to confess a personal sense of loss every time I hear that another bookshop has closed, it does seem to happen often nowadays, doesn’t it? Does this mean that soon we will have no bookshops at all? Is it all the fault of Kindles and other similar reading devices? Will there soon be no hard copy books at all?
First things first, I have to admit that I am a book addict; I start to feel twitchy if I haven’t got an unread book in the house. I take a book with me everywhere I go and, my Christmas lists consist solely of books! When my family suggested that they buy me a Kindle, I was scathing: ‘The pages won’t rustle, there won’t be that amazing new book smell, there won’t be that wonderful feeling of being the first person to open that particular book.’
Needless to say they bought me one anyway and it is very useful. When I go on holiday I don’t have to take a special case just for my books, instead my Kindle gives me a larger choice of potential handbags. The fact that it can store so many books means that I do not need to despair when train delays happen or buses disappear.
So do I still visit bookshops? Of course I do! In the same way as texting has not replaced speech, my Kindle has not replaced hard copy books, it’s just a helpful added extra. How would I know about all the new books being published if I did not visit a bookshop – I don’t want to miss anything good! I would never use my Kindle for textbooks, it’s too fiddly to go backwards and forwards between chapters or search through an index. There is still no pleasure like being the first person to read a brand new book, either, woe betide anyone who buys me a book for Christmas and reads it before they give it to me!
Bookshops also have to move with the times though, and some of them do need to work harder and not take their customers for granted. They need to make sure people can browse in their shop and then, after careful thought at home, make a purchase from that shop online. They need to make them comfortable and welcoming places, staffed by people who are interested in what they are selling. People need to be able to order books from their local bookshop, and get those books quickly without having to remind the shop about the order they made three weeks ago – sorry, a bit of personal grumpiness crept in there!
As with a lot of new technological marvels, Kindles do not replace hard copy books, rather they complement them.I love them both!