It’s ironic that I read Peter Wood’s NAS article “How Will the Decline of Used-Book Stores Influence Scholarship?” in the café of my local Barnes and Noble. In his essay, Wood muses over the decline of bookstores amidst a marketplace of online sellers (e.g. abebooks.com).
Even as the owner of an eReader and as a frequent online book purchaser, I still fret about the future of brick-and-mortar bookstores. The Internet cannot replace the feel of a physical book, nor could it replace that wonderful aura of a quiet building filled with stacks of books. Furthermore, introverts who spend their time in libraries and bookstores are practically socialites compared to the people who are “isolated behind their gadgets, as Nathan Harden wrote last week.
The future of the physical bookstore faces a strong headwind; the movement to digitize everything is quite powerful.
If the bookstore does happen to go the way of the music store, it will be sorely missed. Here’s to hoping that the future is a world were hardcovers and epubs can coexist.