The Future of Bookstores

By Shivika Nanda

Bookstores are calm peaceful places where readers can collectively commune with ideas, words and pictures. Such places make you a powerhouse of imagination. It’s a place where your mind can take itself to other worlds. They are spaces for introspection, reflection, relaxation and escape. It gives you a distinct level of freedom while liberating your mind from your own thoughts.

When you visit a bookstore nearby, a friendly face greets you. You feel that little pleasure and joy in as much as just interacting with people. There is simple magic to these small little experiences in daily life. The vibe a bookstore has attached to it is just unexplainable. Right?

Bookstores benefit the community in a lot of ways. They are crucial pillars in the community. They directly serve an individual as well. They make priceless contributions to building a society. Society is the essence of its core values. These values are creativity, pleasantness in behaviour and contact among the people. It’s a place where literate people with similar thinking patterns connect to each other. Bookstores provide a safe haven of comfort in this fast-moving world. They help in building and maintaining long-standing relationships with people in the community.

Lately, there has been a significant decline in the number of bookstores around. Whenever you revisit your favourite place or that warm basement cute den of books in that famous market, you notice that the entire downstairs is taken up with stationery items, greeting cards, paper supplies, music CDs or maybe a small coffee cafe with other merchandise. There still may be a magazine section and a tiny front display of current bestsellers but those eye-catching beautiful vertical and horizontal racks are now missing. Your heart feels melancholic and you are gripped with the air of sadness.

Today’s diminishing presence of bookstores makes me wonder about the significance of old and simpler times. The market for books has undoubtedly changed. The rise of the Internet and online shopping has carved a very convenient path for delivering books directly to one’s front door. But where is the experience in that? The bookstore’s welcoming atmosphere encouraged reading. The environment it held encouraged that love for the text, for the characters, for the author. The experience was irreplaceable and simply unexplainable. Lingering and strolling mindlessly through those shelves, observing colourful book covers, searching for the desired author, lugging and carrying an armful of books to the counter, all is just incomparable to this online age of bookselling and kindle. That time, it used to feel as if you are carrying a new story out of the store. That bending of the corners of pages, inhaling that unique smell is something passionate avid readers will always keep on missing.

This new age where E-books are much prevalent, it has touted a goodbye death kiss to the physical books. But, despite society’s technological advances in the book world, there will always be a need for bookstores. It is extremely touching and nostalgic, how the early 2000s, when unique and ambitious concept stores still flourished and these online portals hadn’t yet ruined books for everyone. But now, we must root for it because we want to live in a world where huge wooden zig-zag tables and green velvet curtains can not only coexist, but also flourish like before. A bookstore going out of business isn’t honestly very shocking but one does feel that it’s a major change and you have been taken aback. With the relentless popularity of online purchasing in this digitised era, book stores often find themselves in almost no compatibility with evolving shroud capitalism.

Nevertheless, I’d still like to say something about how indispensable, presence of bookstores is, and the undying importance it will always hold. A bookstore plays a fundamental part in weaving the social fabric of a town. A good bookstore is in the community for the community. The role it plays is irreplaceable. I believe there is something very unique and beautiful about such places where there is nothing but joy.

With globalisation and fast ascending capitalisation, the days of perusing skimming bookstores for a good summer read are numbered but we as a community can take some actions on our end. We as a community can aim at a goal to create an environment where people can come together in search of something unknown, to meet in a collective space, gather up, to discuss the latest book, to hear stories from the area’s neighbourhood uncle, or to shake hands with that not so famous poet or author who might live nearby. People can invite each other to connect with one another, to have healthy meets, interesting knowledgeable discussions and last but not the least, to grow together.