Last night I went to Chapters, fully intending to spend some money on books. I had a short list of specific books I was looking for, and I figured that I’d be able to find at least one or two of the dozen or so on my list. Such was not the case.
Since I couldn’t find any books I was actually looking for, I just browsed the fairly enormous selection of books they had on hand. I ended up buying nothing.
The reason is this: brick and mortar bookstores do not have handy, book-specific reader reviews or “related” links. Each time I picked up a book, I wanted to read more about it. What did other people think of the book? Were the recipes well tested and reliable? What was the average reader rating of the book? How many people had bothered rating it at all? Were there other books I might like instead of or in addition to this book?
In short, I have become absolutely reliant on Amazon.ca. Not only do they almost always have the book(s) I’m looking for “in stock” (ranging from 1 day to 6 weeks for delivery), but they’ll usually give me a 20-40% discount off the top, package it up nicely, and send it to my door. They also provide a huge amount of additional information about the books from editorial and reader reviews to the ability to “search inside” the book for specific keywords.
The traditional bookstore is utterly doomed. It’s already obvious — bookstores are no longer just bookstores, they’re also movie stores, music stores, random gift stores, magazine shops, and coffee shops. There is absolutely no reason, whatsoever, to go to these places any more. More often than not the books I’m looking for are things I’ve read about on the web, and the web usually includes a handy link to Amazon so I don’t even have to search for it. Click once to read all about it, then click again to put it into my shopping cart.
Amazon is not only more convenient than a regular bookshop, it’s also more useful, more comprehensive, and more responsive. I can’t remember the last time I’ve gone to a bookstore and found what I was looking for. Usually I come away disappointed, thinking “well, I’ll just go order it on Amazon”.
This used to make me sad, but now it’s just how things are. Book selling has evolved. Not entirely in good ways (Amazon isn’t “cozy” or “friendly” in the way good bookstores can be), but in enough ways that the brick and mortar stores are approaching the level of being quaint throwbacks to an earlier, less convenient day.