I write futuristic science fiction, so a lot of my Google searches end with the words
"... of the future."
These days everyone's walking around with a device in their hands (iPad, iPhone, iPluggedIn), and it increasingly feels like the Future Is Now. Being a gadget person, I'm not averse to any of this (quite the opposite), but I wonder what will happen to bookstores. I used to pedal my bike to the local mini-mall, where an independent bookstore was tucked in a tiny space next to the Sav-On. Every week, I would spend about 1/2 an hour scanning the Science Fiction shelves searching for just the right book to spend my allowance on. I used to dream of having a room in my house, wall-to-wall with books.
Like this, only less stuffy.
As recently as a year ago, I shopped at the bricks-n-mortar bookstores as much as possible, hoping to keep them afloat. Then they converted half their floor space to toys, and more often than not I couldn't get the book I wanted. Sure, they could order it, but hey, I can do that from my house! Without paying for gas (or shipping, since I'm a "member"). It drove home for me that giant bookshelves of books was possibly the least sensible way to gain access to stories and would one day (soon) become a museum exhibit of the way that books used to be distributed. That sentence will make some people shudder (and I might even be one of them), but instead of becoming mired in nostalgia, I pictured the real Bookstore of the Future. The one that would really happen.
And what I - author, reader, book lover - would want it to be.
I want to a bookstore that looks like an Apple store on steroids.
I want a digital store front, with animated touchscreens in the children's section.
I want a place where a group can gather around a screen for a skyped author visit.
I want a personalized search bot that finds me all the books I will love. Then print it while I sip tea or have it shipped to my home. I want a cozy place where people gather to have their writer's and book club meetings. I want to sit in an overstuffed chair by myself or with a friend while we talk books and buy them on our devices or a screen built into the table.
I want a place that welcomes local authors as well as touring celebrities. That hosts writing competitions for youth and classes for literature enjoyment, analysis, and creation. That provides a community gathering place that celebrates all things literary.
I want a place that serves coffee and pastries in the morning, a High Tea and Book afternoon affair, and wine-and-cheese events in the evenings.
I want a section where I can play and learn about the latest gadgets that will house my personal story collection next.
Will the name on the outside of this Bookstore of the Future be Amazon?
It wouldn't surprise me. But no one has a lock on the future - it's there for the grabbing by the one with the most imagination.
Is your Future Bookstore an Indie Boutique filled with the smell of paper and ink?
Or a Tech Wonderland like Corning's Day of Glass?
What do you want in your Future Bookstore?