Buying A Book

Posted: November 2, 2013 in Books, Personal Whining

Yesterday I went in to Chapters, the principal if not only book store in my community, to actually buy a book.  I attach a little incredulity to that because usually I just go in to see what is new and then go home and obtain the e-book version for my Kobo.  But in this case, my intention was actually to make a hard copy purchase.

The book was not an obscure one.  It was a new release by former poet laureate of the United States, Billy Collins.  His new book was released in mid October, weeks ago, and it came to my attention after seeing several interviews with him, including one on The Daily Show.  So I was (mildly) surprised when I went into Chapters to look for it and was told that they had none in stock.  I asked if it was a popular book and was told that more likely they hadn’t ordered it or received it yet.

I suppose they were two busy ordering the stuffed animals and dinnerware that now almost takes up more of their store than do books.  Or perhaps preparing the new electronics display that seems to have eaten up half the space that used to be devoted to the magazines that are or were one of the main reasons that I would frequent the store.

There is no doubt that on line book shopping and e-books have done damage to book retailers.  But there is also no doubt that, like the music stores before them, these retailers are their own worst enemies by being unable to fulfill the needs of the customers that actually still visit them.  I gave up on CD’s because the stores rarely had what I wanted in stock.  Now it appears that the book stores are going the same way and, like the music stores, will shoot themselves in the foot.

So be it.  I only wish that Internet book retailers like Amazon or Kobo would do a better job allowing customers to browse.  If I didn’t visit an occasional book store, I’d have no way of knowing what new and interesting books might be out.  There needs to be a function equivalent to going into a book store and browsing the shelves.  Otherwise you just hear about the latest best sellers and that isn’t good for the industry.  Not everybody reads on e-readers now.  A good cross section would be looking at people on the subway, where a majority are still reading old fashioned books (if they’re reading at all, not playing some trite phone game).

It’s a complicated retail transition. Hopefully the book stores will do better than the music store, -although from what I’ve seen, I doubt it.

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