Even In The Face Of Ebook Hegemony Used Bookstores Are Still Popular

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.

“One of the first comments we hear is that the bookstore down the road closed, and there’s no place to buy books anymore,” Gottwals said. “It’s like having a museum or a theater. It’s a cultural center. It’s a place people want to go. And that’s why it’s a good investment.”

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.