Many of you have heard that Borders declared Chapter 11 bankruptcy and is closing about 200 stores. This is a big blow, and some estimate that will affect sales of books so much that authors, agents, publishers, etc., will see a 10% decrease in profits. And of course hundreds of fine booksellers are now looking at unemployment in a recession.
In an age where you can buy books online, often for cheaper and without having to leave your home, why bother at all with brick-and-mortar stores? Here are a few of reasons.
Local stores provide local jobs and improve the economy in your neighborhood.
Local bookstores become hubs of the arts. Without bookstores, there would be no book tours. When authors tour, we go to events at bookstores and do school visits set up by the bookstores. These are free literary events.
When someone says San Jose, California, I think Hicklebees. When someone says Austin, Texas, I think BookPeople. Local bookstores increase the livability and positive perception of your home town. This has a direct effect on economy.
Bookstores mean booksellers, people whose job it is to read books, know what's out there and what's coming out. They are experts you can talk to for book recommendations for your child, for you, for reluctant and voracious readers. They help keep literacy alive.
Without handselling, it's harder for new authors to get published. How often do you buy a debut author's book online? A new book is much more likely to be sold by a person in a store, where it can be propped up in a display or handed to a reader by a bookseller. This is serious, hopeful authors out there. Without booksellers handselling books, your chances of getting published are diminished. Even if you're not a hopeful author, the more bookstores there are means more individual places for books to get noticed, which means more types of books that get published, which helps keep freedom of speech alive.
Since you're reading an author's site, most of you probably have a local bookstore you support. But if you buy all your books online or exclusively use the library, try buying the occassional book at your local bookstore. Books make excellent gifts! Indiebound is a good tool for finding nearby bookstores in the US.
Please add in the comments other reasons bookstores are important or any personal thoughts you'd like to share.