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June 17, 2011


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Revitol Scarcream

It's hard to say what is the future of brick and mortar libraries. It will probably will pass the same process that newspapers had and still have. The market is dynamic but the important thing is that people will continue to read, no matter the medium.


I agree that a great brick and mortar store can be a completely different experience. Buyers are forced to edit based on space limitations, and the best ones act as cultural centers (Shakespeare & Co. in Paris). Also, I think that brick & mortar stores introduce the element of accident--I find books for which I wouldn't be searching because they are outside my comfort zone (and therefore they'll never appear as recommended title).


I agree that most bookstores are cultural centers that are very agreeable places to pass the time, browse, and enjoy a coffee. But I don't want the clutter that buying books involves. So, I use the library mostly. Eco friendly.

But what if bookstores charged a cover charge or admission fee? I'd gladly pay $5 to $10 to enter and spend my evening or afternoon there. I doubt that such a charge would deter many browsers, but it would help the bookstores' bottom line.

Jacqui Lipton

That's an interesting idea, Harry. I wonder if a variation would be "book clubs" like BJs or Sams Club ie where you pay an annual membership to join? This would be easier to administer and one could still have temporary/day/short term passes for people who aren't local or don't want to sign up for a year. But I wonder about the economics. Would even entry fees make up the funds necessary to keep brick and mortar stores in business? (And would people be deterred from paying a fee to enter a store they are used to entering for no charge?) And entry fees for stores may drive browsers to libraries which may not be a bad thing anyway. Maybe we'll see the dawn of libraries that include coffee shops and places to meet and mingle, and perhaps even that can sell some copies of popular books?

Jacqui Lipton

I should also add that some books are currently unavailable in e-formats. For example, while I found a copy of The Outsiders (S.E. Hinton) in Barnes and Noble on the shelves, I couldn't find a Kindle edition, although there is an audiobook edition available on iTunes.



All good questions. I simply don't know enough about bookstores' financial models to answer your concerns. I, too, wondered about the deterence point. But I guess that I was thinking of the pay-to-browse scenario in towns were there is only one or two bookstores or small cities that are trying, but often failing, to keep a hipster, downtown bookstore. In these situations, there is either little competition or no real competition (because the hipsters would never go to Borders in the mall!). And I like your evolutionary-library idea. I've heard that some cities have been able to have some success with similar libraries.

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