Books: Making a comeback

I watched a very interesting feature on the BBC yesterday. It seems that ‘real’ books are making a comeback. I couldn’t be more pleased to hear it. Although I have a few electronic downloads, I still have many real books, including quite a lot that wait to be read.

Nothing equals the feel of pages, the enjoyment of the weight and gravitas of a volume, and the wonderful cover art. The details about the author, often accompanied with a photograph, the publishing date, and other small details, including the ISBN number. Magical stuff indeed.

Waterstones is the largest independent bookseller remaining in the UK today. Not so long ago, they faced bankruptcy, and closure of branches. Their corporate image and identical store layout had left the public bored, and tired of the same old thing. Luckily, they grasped the mettle, and reinvented the whole idea of chain bookshops. They allowed managers to feature local authors, and to stock books that were both relevant and popular in the various regions. They installed comfy chairs for reading, and gave the bookshop customer the experience they had been looking for.

As a result, sales are up by more than 3%. That doesn’t sound like much, but it is the difference between failure, and profit. They have put in great displays, featured authors, held book-signings, and promoted special offers. Finally, we have an alternative to Amazon; and although it is slightly more costly, the buyers are flocking in their droves to experience browsing through actual books, and enjoying the weight and feel of paper, at long last.

Nothing really replaces a book. The cover, the smell of the paper, the physical presence signifying that you have an object of importance in your hand. That is something priceless. You can pass it on to a lover, a friend, a relative, a colleague. You can pack it in your luggage to enjoy on holiday, or prop it on your bedside table for reading late at night. No matter how many Kindle apps you have, or how convenient it is to hold a smartphone or tablet, nothing will ever replicate the feeling of physically turning those pages.

Books have been a huge part of my life. I never really relaxed with an electronic book. I tended to worry about battery life, extraneous light, and whether or not a title was available. If bookshops are enjoying a new lease of life, nobody could be happier that me. What great news, for a change.

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43 thoughts on “Books: Making a comeback

  1. Totally agree Pete! I’ve never owned a Kindle or Kobo and probably never will. I’m a bit old fashioned like that 🙂 even with Netflix I found myself not watching things that I’d definitely have watched if I bought them on DVD…how strange!

    Interesting about Waterstones, I’m glad they’re still around even though they’re expensive! xxx

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    1. It could be argued that Waterstones drove many small booksellers out of business, like the ‘Tesco of bookshops’, I suppose. But I expect that many would have gone under anyway, with the increased rents and business rates. At least we still have a bookshop in most towns, and I didn’t expect that. xxx

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      1. That’s very true! And second-hand book shops too, which can be more fun. Amazon started off as a bookshop, that’s all they sold ‘in the beginning’ (I didn’t remember that but my dad told me recently)

        Waterstones can be so expensive but it’s a lovely shop to browse. Proper book shop feel! I can’t believe WHSmith are still going ha ha, I’d rather have Woolies!! xxx

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  2. As much as I love books, Pete, I must confess I adore my Kindle. You have so many books in one place, it doesn’t occupy any space, there are many books at reduced prices, and there also the option of word to speech (that means you can do other things and listen to the book). And you can make the text bigger (age is not kind….) Of course audios are another option. Travelling before was quite a challenge. I’m not sure if you’ve watched a movie (that I adore) called ‘Only Lovers Left Alive’ by Jim Jarmusch. The protagonists are vampires but not your usual. Tilda Swinton, Eve, has to travel and packs a suitcase full of books. And I thought, yes, sister. I love bookshops and bookstores, especially those where people who work there really know about books and are passionate about them (they’re not just sales people). I prefer the little independent ones and the specialised one, that seem to be making a come back. Any reading, in any format, is good.

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    1. In the modern world, there is of course room for both paper and electronics, and I appreciate the freedom that e-readers offer. I was just pleased to hear that books and bookshops are enjoying something of a comeback. I love specialist bookshops too. One of my favourites is Stanfords travel books and map shop in Covent Garden. Here’s a link, if you ever get down there.
      http://www.stanfords.co.uk/
      I know of the film you mention, but have yet to see it. I read some excellent reviews, and it looks like my thing.
      Best wishes, Pete.

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  3. Yes, I love real books too! And I love browsing in bookstores and libraries .. I find ebooks great for travel mainly to lighten the load… but that is the only reason…

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    1. If you intend to read more than one or two books when travelling, then e-readers are a handy alternative. It is nice to look at the books you own on a shelf though, and to reflect on the times when you bought them, and anticipated reading them. I never get that with a Kindle App.
      Best wishes, Pete.

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  4. I totally agree, Pete. Never had or wanted a Kindle. So as long as I have sight to read, I don’t like audio books, either – but let’s not go there! X

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  5. It’s great that books are making a comeback. I pick and choose the books that I buy carefully as I have limited space. I probably by many more from my Kindle than to put on a bookshelf. I love books, reading and bookstores so this is a happy turn of events. Nice post!

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  6. Great post. I also have ebooks but still read real books, and will do so for as long as I can. I don’t want to have to have electricity in order to exercise my mind!

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  7. I’m with you. They are a big part of my life. I never bought a Kindle but was tempted. Something comforting about holding a book and filling up bookshelves. They make a house a home and reveal a lot about the inhabitants within!

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  8. You are so right Pete, and like you and a few others I still have a couple of boxes still to unpack.
    We have two book cases in the hall as you enter the house and we are often asked why so many books, to which I reply ‘it’s for when the internet breaks’
    I also find that I trust the contents of a non fiction book more than something from the internet, odd that?

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    1. I have books on photography, non-fiction history, novels, and even some books that I got as school prizes, in the late 1950s. I could never replace the feel of those with an e-reader.
      Cheers mate, Pete.

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    1. Thanks, M.L. I have boxes of books still unopened, since I moved here four years ago. I cannot bear to part with them, and still prefer their bulk to one e-reader storing five hundred books.
      Best wishes, Pete.

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  9. Pete, I’m totally with you on this. I’m currently reading a “real” book (460 pages),and enjoying every page of it (even though it’s in English). This book happens to be signed by the author, so that’s a big plus! I have something like 700 or 800 books on shelves throughout the house, and some still haven’t been read. Others have been read two or more times. The only digital novel I’ve ever read in its entirety was a sci-fi manuscript that an author emailed to me for purposes of editing and proofreading. As for my books, I’m still unsure at to whether I’ll ever publish Kindle editions. If “real” books are making a comeback, then perhaps that’s an encouraging sign to just target “real” book readers.

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    1. I am more than happy to possess a signed copy of your own excellent book, David.
      As Kim says, Amazon are opening stores in the US, and selling real books in them too!
      Best wishes, Pete.

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      1. Pete, I’ll be sending you a detective novel sometime late this year, and it will be signed as well. And then in 2017, I’ll send you the signed sequel. I very much appreciate your compliment.

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    1. Thanks, Kim. I know that the modern world has made a place for e-readers, but it’s heartening to realise that books are holding their own. Similar to the ‘re-birth’ of vinyl records, it seems that younger people really like going ‘retro’!
      Best wishes, Pete.

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        1. Most of the library closures here have been forced by local spending cuts, Kim. Those still left are now doing a more varied range of community activities, and performing functions other than book-lending too. It would be good to see them all return one day, but we are lucky to have an excellent and well-used library in our local town.
          Best wishes, Pete.

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          1. Oh. Absolutely Pete. The thing is that until fairly recently, at least here anyway, libraries were always one of the first places towns and cities looked at when cutting the budget. There were a few libraries near where I live that weren’t closed, but had their hours drastically reduced. That changed when their patrons got up in arms and vocally voiced their displeasure and communicated to the powers that be that their libraries are integral parts of the community. It’s funny because all of a sudden each library that had been affected was suddenly completely funded. Funny that.

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