Opinion: Independently-owned bookstores cannot disappear

By Farah Bassyouni Mar4,2022
Bobzbay is a local independent bookstore, located at 419 N. Main St. in downtown Bloomington. Photos by Liam Killian
Bobzbay is a local independent bookstore, located at 419 N. Main St. in downtown Bloomington.
Photos by Liam Killian

Independently-owned businesses are becoming far and few between as we dive deeper into the age of Amazon. Not only does everyone seem to be getting their goods from the same retailers, but things that used to be physical objects are now just pixels on a screen. One particular example being bookstores, specifically the lack of independently-owned bookstores.

 Everyone has probably heard about small businesses having to close because of the digital world and specifically Amazon out competing everyone. With their 2-day prime shipping and relatively cheap prices it sounds like a great deal to buy all the books you need from Amazon, rather than your local bookstore that may be a tad more expensive and not have all the books you need. The problem here is that we are accidentally getting trained to only accept instant gratification and nothing less than that. 

Customers now have less patience than ever before. This is a trait that is not admirable for real life situations and problem solving. By indulging in the easiest method of shopping, we are hurting ourselves and those small businesses. Independently owned bookstores specifically have a presence that recent generations have not had the opportunity to experience. They have contributed to the enrichment of their local communities for years, but now are nowhere to be found. 

This lack of bookstores means no afternoons strolling through the bookshelves and asking the cashier about what book they just finished reading, and whether or not they enjoyed it. Not only are you lacking that personal recommendation but you are also lacking the human engagement that we are all slowly getting less and less of. Thus by shopping at the few remaining bookstores that are local instead of places like the Barnes and Noble chain or Amazon, you’ll be able to get a human experience that will have value, rather than just a transaction charge on your credit card. 

Amazon on its own has been working for readers to transition off of paper books with their creation of the Kindle, and Barnes and Noble’s Nook. These devices further encourage electronic books instead of paperback, advertising a steeper original price for the devices but making cheaper prices of ebooks on the device. The Kindle especially advertises the hundreds of books that you can have all in one little tablet, that will even connect to wifi so that you can read on-the-go like a typical book.

Photo by Liam Killian

 

This would essentially eliminate most of the space being filled on all your bookshelves. An obvious con to the Kindle is having the responsibility to charge it. Now this argument of paper vs tablet and shopping local or not for a lot of people is just a question of convenience.

Nowadays, the only people that have physical books are often students in need of textbooks that are probably not available online, or book fiends that claim to love having the physical books in their hands rather than looking at a screen. Preference or not, it boils down to convenience and how even though shopping local and owning physical books benefits both communities citizens, the trend of society is siding with the convenience that Amazon provides.

Bozbay in Downtown Bloomington is a great option for a local independent bookstore for any students that hope to indulge in the genuine face-to-face experience of looking for pleasure reading. Located just down the street from Coffee Hound at 419 N Main street, students should grab a coffee and head to Bozbay to take advantage of the warm spring weather.

Next time you are shopping for books you need for school or for enjoyment outside of school, ask yourself if you could support the one local bookstore that is probably struggling to get by in your community. Not only would you be helping out a local business but also getting some much needed human interaction instead of just staring at another screen.

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