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Life, Law & Libros

Shop Talk: Bookstores in the Digital Age

Shop Talk: a reader's weekly ramblings on the publishing industry, bookstores and/or writing.

I'm a book buying addict. I'm also a major cheapskate, and price is often the deciding factor in where and what I buy--which means I buy most of my books used. I have one local used bookstore with a limited selection, so I turn to online stores more often than not. The stats show a lot of consumers are doing the same.

How do brick and mortar bookstores, independent or chain, compete with online vendors? Today's consumers have access to any number of online stores boasting discounted prices, fast shipping and instant gratification with ebooks. With all these incentives drawing readers to screens instead of stores, how can local booksellers bring in business?

A panel at the Digital Book World conference says "The Future of Bookstores" looks bright; stores are hosting more special events (hard to replicate online) and reinforcing a sense of community with personal interactions and recommendations. I get why increased author events are working. I rarely buy new hardcovers, even of books I love, but for an author signing? Done.

What do you think? Do you shop online, in-store or a mix? What are your local stores doing to bring in business? Or what could they do differently to bring more readers in?


  1. I'm a mix, though because of my employee discount, I now do most of my general buying through the bookstore I work at. Huge book hauls I do at Powell's City of Books, and whenever I need to buy something from Barnes & Noble, I order it online because their online prices are reduced drastically. I also order from

    By the way, Kel, I might've asked you this before, but what do you think of BookOutlet? I was peeking at their online store because all of the Booktubers I watch buy from them, and their prices look phenomenal. But I have to wonder about what their shipping is like.

    1. Interesting. Not an Amazon user? But employee discounts definitely make paying full retail price less painful. I miss mine, even if I was only making minimum wage. :(

      I have never used BookOutlet myself, but I have read of other bloggers buying there. It looks like they have good prices if you catch the right book on sale, and their shipping prices are pretty standard. No idea on the time/condition for arrival.