The Decline of the Book Shop

The branch of Borders book shop on Oxford Street is closing down, I found out yesterday, from a colleague who’d just returned from her lunch break with a bag of bargains from their closing down sale.

This is sad news on so many levels. First of all, it’s the only book shop left within a short walk from the office – so no more lunch time browsing for me.

Second, this seems to be the latest casualty in a long line of London book shops that are closing. This is the real tragedy. I am sure the recession is not helping, but the decline of book sales has been going on for a long time. Book shops have been losing out to online places like Amazon, who generally sell things cheaper. Amazon is fine if you know what you want, but nothing beats browsing a book shop, looking for nothing in particular, taking in the smell and the feel of new books, and maybe happening across a new writer you decide to take a chance on.

Sadly it seems those of us who are willing to take a chance on buying a book by a writer we’ve never heard of before, just because it attracts us in the book shop, are in the minority. The biggest revenue from book sales, I was quite depressed to learn recently, comes from those sold in supermarkets. Supermarkets only stock the big commercial best sellers. That probably means that most people buy only the books by people they’ve and liked in the past, picking up the latest paperback by that author with their weekly groceries.

Bad news for those of us who are unpublished novelists. With readers sticking to those they know and love, and publishers sticking to the writers who make them money, who’s left to take a chance on some new unpublished writer, on the off chance that they might do well?

The concept makes me quite depressed. RIP Borders Oxford Street. I will miss you.

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1 comment so far

  1. lachatnoir on

    It is a real shame. Our local bookstore has closed too. However, take heart I still buy books in supermarkets based on the cover or blurb :o)


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