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What Does the Bookshop of the Future Look Like to You?

By Edward Nawotka, Editor-in-chief

Foyles bookshop in London has solicited advice from interested individuals who want to contribute to the creation of the bookshop of the future. Numerous publishing professionals offered Publishing Perspectives their insights in today’s feature story.

What about you? How do you envision the bookshop of the future?

Does it have a large or small footprint? Offer a broad range of titles? Or is it more specialized and tightly curated? Should it offer a branded ereader? Are community events and the space to host gatherings important to you? Would you take advantage of having an Espresso Book Machine on site? What about foreign language books? Or sidelines? How about same-day delivery for website orders within a particular range?

Everyone’s answer will be different and much of that will depend on the type of community in which they live.

It might also be interesting to reflect on the fact that Borders had re-envisioned its own ‘bookstore of the future’ back in 2008 — and it offered some very intriguing and forward-thinking concepts. Unfortunately, the company’s troubles compounded by the economic crisis of 2009 — prevented the company from ever implementing its plans. Had they been able to re-invent themselves, who knows what the bookselling landscape might look like today.

Let us know what you think in the comments below.

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  1. Posted December 12, 2012 at 3:33 am | Permalink

    A scattering of ideas:

    Create a secure gallery area within shops to show regular book illustration exhibitions, especially for children’s books.

    Local books section expanded to include selected self-published works by regional-specific authors. Bookshops expand into publishing themselves? Some literary agents seem to be leaning that way, why not bookshops.

    Combine with colleges and organiations like Society of Authors, SCBWI, Association of Illustrators & Photographers to run evening workshops on the creative craft. Art classes, writer critiques, workshops, etc.


  2. Posted December 12, 2012 at 4:06 am | Permalink

    I see the bookstores of the future the SAME WAY as they are now! NOTHING CAN COMPARE TO A BOOKSTORE! “Except’ ADDING” the alternative option of being able to CHOOSE to read books on an Ereader device is a wonderful alternative! I think of the Ereader as an ‘alternative’ method of reading! A positive alternative! I think of physical books as the ‘mainstay’ of reading, as there is nothing like it, of course!
    I think ebooks are a WIN/WIN for Publishers/Authors ANY way you look at it!
    Why? Ebook are just another ‘option’ for reading! What a better way than the LOVE of reading than to be able to get it in ANY FORMAT!
    There will ALWAYS be the physical books we ALL LOVE! We ALL LOVE ‘the real thing’! Yet for some of us, we also read better on an ereader due to vision difficulties, as well! So I can have BOTH! Especially for my favorite authors! I will ALWAYS buy the physical book from my faves!
    There are many reasons for both types of reading choices! I like to think of this in a positive way! NOTHING beats ‘the real thing’ of being IN a bookstore! NOTHING beats the EASE of getting a book while sitting all cozy at home! Those books we fall in love with on the eareader will still be purchased at a brick and mortar store, too!
    I wish Publishers and Authors will think of the ebooks as an ‘addition’ to reading instead of worrying about any type of loss of sales, because at the prices of ebooks, there is NOT a loss of sales of their books at all. Ebooks are just another ‘option’ of reading!
    There are MANY books you just cannot get as an ebook, too. There are those golden finds in books that will never be beat that you find in a real brick and mortar store!
    So I see the future of bookstores the SAME way as they are now, with MORE options for reading, and it will NEVER change! The smell of the stores, the ambiance, the look, the layout, the sales! The Best Seller sections, books by genre, and so much more!
    Libraries have NOT changed, so why would bookstores change? Libraries always embrace change in reading options, and I think the bookstores should, too!
    BOTH ‘can’ work, and they CAN work together!
    Books are a wonderful thing! A whole other world between two covers! That, will NEVER change!
    Let’s embrace the new along with the old!

  3. Posted December 12, 2012 at 4:58 am | Permalink

    The bookshop of the future is here already, and its name is Amazon.

  4. Posted December 12, 2012 at 1:11 pm | Permalink

    I totally agree with John and Laurie: e-reading is an addition not a substitute. Therefore, publishers and bookstores are essentially facing an EXPANDING PIE. E-readers appeal to a younger set and an older set alike and for different reasons (e-readers are cool for the young, they’re convenient for the old, lighter and enabling larger font for ease of reading).

    So anything that expands the choice of titles and of reading device is welcome, including Book Espresso machines for printing on demand. Actually POD may well turn out to be a bigger game changer: it does away with the need for warehouses or sending back to the publishers unwanted/unsold books. A win-win situation!

    Since it takes a little time to print books on demand (the technology is still cluncky), it makes sense for bookstores to expand their “social areas” and while they’re at it, why not, organize community events, attract people to the world of books!

    I’m afraid I have to disagree with Lexi, the bookshop of the future is NOT Amazon, unless it gains a foothold in the real world and starts opening its own book stores (which I think would be a great idea!)

    As long as Amazon stays put online and up there in the ether, they can’t compete with the charm and joys of a real bookstore. Their system for book discoverability is still in its infancy. It mostly consists in ranking best sellers: the top 100 titles show up and that’s that.

    Unfortunately as a sales tool ranking has its limitations: in particular, it doesn’t help book discoverability, it simply perpetuates what is already at the top. Sure, their tags and keywords should help people searching for something else but in the end, they only tend to create further confusion! For example, my book A Hook in the Sky which is a Baby Boomer novel, and as such a rather ground-breaking novel in a new, fast rising genre, boomer literature, is ranked #1 in the Kindle category called…aging! That’s very funny of course but not quite to the point…

  5. Posted December 12, 2012 at 1:26 pm | Permalink

    An Espresso machine absolutely, and combine it with lots of very well put together catalogues aimed at different niche genres, possibly browsable and order-from-able electronically in a very chilled cafe area (and having the cost of your coffee taken off the price of a book ordered from the machine).

    The very best bookstores of the future will be community hubs, built around a shared passion for certain kinds of books that will include all kind of events as well as curation and expertise in certain fields

  6. Gordon Smith
    Posted December 14, 2012 at 12:39 am | Permalink

    There will be no such thing as a physical bookshop in the longer term. There will always be bookshops, you say? Where are all the record shops selling vinyl LPs these days? Closed down or moved online.

    If there is a community, it will be online.

    Libraries will change when the technology required to lend ebooks catches up.

  7. Dave
    Posted January 4, 2013 at 1:23 pm | Permalink

    Interested parties should visit The Last Bookstore in Los Angeles. They’ve crafted a unique atmosphere including live entertainment, many chairs/sofas interspersed among the stacks, and a second floor with an experiential used book collection (just go see it) plus artists’ lofts. Hint: if you haven’t stumbled into a bank vault where a disembodied voice was reading the unabridged Das Kapital, you haven’t experienced the whole thing. Ask someone.


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