Scott Karp at Publishing 2.0 has an interesting piece today about the future of the bookstores. And according to him, the picture ain’t too rosy:
I used to love bookstores — they were magical places where the whole world of information and stories was at your fingertips. But I realized today that the bookstore has begun its slow decent into obsolescence, just like every analogue media institution. The bookstore has been replaced by the Web as the place of wonder, and there’s no turning back.
In the article, he’s primarily focused on business books and their irrelevance in this new digital age. In fact, he has the following caveat:
I should add a strong caveat here — there are a few places where the book format will continue to thrive — fiction and children’s books principal among them (for years I maintained the delusion that I could be a fiction writer — wrong kind of writing for me). For my four-year-old daughter, the children’s book section is still a magical place — she knew how to navigate the Noggin website at 2, but physical books are still objects of wonder — and that’s still a very good thing. I don’t know if the same will be true for her children, but for now the children’s book section is still vibrant — same for the fiction section.
I’m not sure most bookstores would agree that they could sustain themselves on fiction and kids books alone, but it’s pretty to think so.
Personally, I think bookstores will still be culturally relevant, even after every book published is available instantaneously from Google. Aside from the obvious benefits of browsing, getting personal recommendations from well-read booksellers, etc. Besides, there’s something to be said about preserving spaces in our world where we can all get away from our computers . . .