In an article that should bring you and yours a bit of holiday warmth, the Washington Post has found that despite Amazon used bookstores are still thriving – for now. They have found that various factors including the aging of the Baby Boom generation, the headwinds of digital adoption, and the general need for a place of community have all led to a resurgence in used bookstores.
The primary point? Bookstores are nice places.
Obviously this is a bit of bookseller hagiography – coffee shops and rec centers are nice for communities too – but there is something to be said about a used bookstore. Sadly, the impetus to pick up a paperback book is waning in some circles and has completely eclipsed paper books in others. While it’s fun to brave the elements to go down to Half Price Books for a few well-worn tomes of forgotten lore, it’s even more fun to press a button and get your book on your Kindle in a few seconds. The only places I see any life for print books in the next decade is in the children’s section – you don’t want to give junior a fragile tablet – and in the world of artisanal books. We are already living in a world where a printed book is venerated the way some venerate vinyl – as a throwback to a simpler time that offers an arguably superior experience in a few specific cases.
So hats off to the used book stores. Like stores dedicated to selling old video game consoles there’s still a enough demand to make them profitable and still enough nostalgia to make them fun. Is a nice bookstore a growing investment opportunity though? I’m not so sure but I’m also not sure it has to be.