Wednesday, March 7, 2012

The Bookstore of the Future

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?


43 comments:

  1. I don't bother with the brick and mortar stores anymore. I either download my books or order them online. They're cheaper than buying them in the store, and I always order enough to get free shipping (Canadian chain). Besides, like you said, often you have to order the book because it's not in the store.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I still try to shop the bookstores, especially at Christmas, but it gets harder all the time. Thanks for stopping by!

      Delete
  2. I would love the bookstore of the future you describe... especially with high tea and wine and cheese. I mean what better way to spend the day chatting about the stories we read? :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I know, right? I would like LIVE at the bookstore! And I can't help but think that would promote book-buying or at the very least, maintain a healthy profit margin for the bookstore. The prize here will be a company that finds a way to make all this profitable, and at the same time serve the needs of the customer. Which are usually the same thing.

      Delete
  3. I should be ashamed to admit this, but I buy all my books from Amazon, in batches of $25-$30, so I don't have to pay for shipping. And I still haven't gotten into e-books. I've tried, but I just can't get the hang of it.

    I occasionally visit my local indie bookstore because they sell used books. And when I go, I'll buy books by the armload.

    Someday, I'll get to the future with everybody else. :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. This is a Guilt Free Zone, especially when it comes to tech! :) You're not alone in buying from Amazon and searching out good deals, especially in this economy. Thanks for stopping by!

      Delete
  4. *sigh* Oh, wow . . . when you find that place, let me know. I want it, too. :-)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I know, right?  Thanks for stopping by!

      Delete
  5. Oh. My. HECK. I want YOUR bookstore! And I want it NOW!!

    ReplyDelete
  6. I love walls of bookshelves filled with books--my library is my LOVE!

    HOWEVER, I love your concept of the bookstores of the future--GREAT IDEAS!!! YES, YES, YES!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. And there’s no reason why we can’t have both (paper and ebooks)! In fact, the more I think about it, I think that bifurcation is already happening.

      Delete
  7. I'm a little tired for being made to feel guilty because I want to purchase a book for the cheapest price. That's what this country is all about. Free market.

    I'm all for easier ways to browse, purchase and interact with authors. I think there's a lot of potential for some pretty cool stuff.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. No more guilt! No one should feel guilty about seeking out bargains in this economy – that’s just common sense. (And free market! Always a big fan of that.)

      Delete
  8. I'm all about the boutique, real honest to goodness book store. But I fear I'm a dying breed. :(

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I think there's room for both - or should be. After all, not everyone has the same needs/desires!

      Delete
  9. Oh this bookstore looks wonderful. I actually rarely go to the book store anymore. It's sad, but I have so many wonderful Indie books on my Ereader and since the only bookstore in town is Barnes & Noble, I figure I'd rather support my local Indie than the big chain store.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. No more guilt! No one should feel guilty about seeking out bargains in this economy – that’s just common sense. (And free market! Always a big fan of that.)

      Delete
  10. Dear, dear Sue - LET'S DO THIS!!!! We don't live too far apart. I'll be your business partner in opening this place.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Oh Megg. I heart you! There’s no one I’d rather go into business with, you savvy woman you. Right now I can barely manage to write and speak at the same time. 

      Delete
  11. It is kind of unnerving how the future IS now. It makes it hard to write a sci-fi that readers will gasp over :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. You are not kidding! Vexes me every time I try to invent something in fiction.

      Delete
  12. I think your "bookstore of the future" is a very cool idea. Of course, I still mostly buy books from physical shops rather than online or e-copies. I have an iPad with the Kindle app to read my few e-books, but I prefer hard-copies of books. And Amazon is good for books I know I want, but there's still something nice about browsing the bookshelves of a store and seeing what I can find. Perhaps I'm just old-fashion that way... =)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. There’s nothing wrong with being old-fashioned! (I have a few old fashioned-ideas myself, in spite of being a technophile.) As long as there are people who prefer physical shops, I think they will still exist, although fewer and further between.

      Delete
  13. Susan - A bookstore that's totally techie, yet still has "real" books as well. I buy both. Love me some books - all kinds.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I can see a physical book section in my new Bookstore of the Future too! 

      Delete
  14. All these differing opinions in the comments are interesting. I do love to browse through a bookstore and have many happy memories of doing so as a teenager, but now convenience is a strong factor.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Convenience seems to win a lot, even for those of us that want to see bookstores stick around. Life just gets busy!

      Delete
  15. As soon as I win Powerball, we are creating this store. :)
    So cool.

    ReplyDelete
  16. We should create our own book chain, Indelibles, based on Susan's model. And yeah, i live by you and Megg. Let's do it! Now if only we could find the start up money...funny enough, if we could come up with the idea, I know some people who know some people that give start-ups money.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. "Indelibles" would be an awesome name for a bookstore!

      Delete
  17. Count me in. You caught the nostalgia and the hype of the future. Let's do this!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I think we have a whole start-up team right here! :)

      Delete
  18. Man...I know things are changing. But, boy I love going to a bookstore and walking up and down the aisles...I like your ideas of what a new bookstore should look and act like. :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Maybe we can have a "paper" section in the bookstore as well. :)

      Delete
  19. Your in-house library wishes made me think of how much I enjoy seeing what books other people have on their shelves when I visit their homes. I can always tell a lot about a person by the books they own. Perhaps that luxury is disappearing. Perhaps, in order to get that same information about people, I'll have to say, "Mind if I see what you have on your e-reader?" Or maybe I could just go find them on Goodreads.

    ReplyDelete
  20. I LOVE your vision! I think it can happen. Once retailers start thinking outside the "book" there are endless possibilities. Tech innovations will cost a lot, and most current indies aren't making enough money to invest in major tech, but somebody will. Readers still want that sense of community. Meanwhile, I still shop my indie store for gift books and the occasional impulse buy.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks Anne! I think any and all of these are possible – someone just needs to make the leap! ;)

      Delete
  21. Came over from Trisha Slay's Slay the Writer blog. Loved this post! The glass video was great, too, until it got to the big old screens in the redwood forest. Give me redwood forest inside with technology, please, but don't give me technology in my redwood forests. There is something so beautiful about trees and ferns. They don't need dinosaur enhancements. I did think the little screen that found that identified the footprints was cool, though. Well, it was actually all very cool. What a time we live in!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I know, right? Truly, the only limit is our imaginations. Thanks for stopping by!

      Delete
  22. Wow...Sally made it here to comment before me. I read this post last week & just had to come back to say you inspired me to write my own post about the bookstores of now and the bookstores of the future. Like you, I don't think we need to have electronic OR paper. We can have a lovely mix of everything BOOK and no one needs to feel left out.

    ReplyDelete
  23. This is PERFECT! Funny truth - I write my books in Barnes and Nobles cafe, nursing a cup of coffee or Earl Grey, and publish them on Pub it. However, Barnes has earned less than 10% of my sizable book sales and thus forgone the profits associated with those sales because of their business practices. Sometimes Nook customers can't even find my books and local folks who want to order my paperbacks in the store get sent to the internet. So, sad.

    ReplyDelete