Saturday, February 11, 2012

Why brick and mortar stores are better

It is no secret that I grew up in a bookstore. When the going got tough I could always count on being able to sit in the aisles with a good book. I would spend hours of my summers sitting in the air conditioning leaning against uncomfortable metal bays while my mother and sister worked hard to buy me the books that I couldn't read during the day.

 My sister started to work at Barnes and Noble in 1997, I was 5 at the time, two years later my mom started to work there and she's worked there ever since. When I was in elementary and middle school, I was a "junior bookseller"and would help my mom shelve books and answer questions from customers who seemed to think the (visibly) 9 year old worked there. I didn't mind though, I helped them find books, and when I didn't know what they were asking for, I ran to find my mother or an available computer for me to look up with they wanted. Every so often another bookseller would help me out.

This was how I spent most of my summers until I was around 13 and that was just because I was 13 and evil. I loved those days that I spent wrapping presents during the holidays or reading in a corner, and before you start accusing my mother and sister of child labor, know that I liked what I was doing and I was paid for my work with the latest Bailey School Kids book or an A-Z Mystery.

I am ashamed to admit that this summer, when they announced that Borders was going out of business, I was giddy that all of these books were going to be so cheap. I loved reading and I loved books, but what I didn't realize was what it would mean for brick and mortar stores like Barnes and Noble. It is no secret that a large number of people do their shopping online, not just for electronics but for books as well. As people look to get their books from online because its cheaper to do it that way then to go into the store and use gas and have to pay someone to put the book in their hand.

Bookstores offer a great experience. You get to be surrounded by books and people that love books just as much as you do. Bookstores offer something that, online stores can't; the chance to hold the book in your hands and feel it and see other parts of the book. I know plenty of people that like to read the end of the book first or read a chapter from the middle of the book before purchasing it.

That being said, I still want to open my own bookstore. When I went into Pittsburgh last month, I don't think I saw a single chain bookstore, and that gave me hope that someday I might be able to open up my own shop and survive.

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