|Barnes & Noble Booksellers, Shelby Township (Barnesandnoble.com)|
Last week there was a Washington Post article about how brick and mortar bookstores are being killed by showrooming -- that is, people who look for books in a bookstore (the showroom), but then go home and order them online for less money. I don't get it personally. I think that's bass-ackwards.
As I think I've mentioned before, I often browse new titles online, then go to to a brick-and-mortar store to make my purchase. That just makes more sense to me.
Even the best bookstore has only a limited selection of all the new and old books out there. Online, I have potential access to every title in print, and many out-of-print as well. Often on Amazon.com and Barnes and Noble.com you can preview a few pages or chapters of a book and read other reader's reviews.
When I find a book I want, however, I want it as soon as possible, and I like to inspect the condition and even the feel of the book also. That's why I go to to a brick-and-mortar store. On at least one occasion I declined to buy a book because it seemed cheaply made and I suspected a mail-order book club to which I belonged would offer its own version, which would be no worse (and might even be better) for less money.
True, the cost of the books is usually more in the store, but I pay an annual fee to be a Barnes & Noble member, which grants me 10 percent off everything I purchase at the store and online from its website. I also receive coupons most weeks good for an extra 10- to 20-percent discount. Other items in the store, such as select new releases, are further discounted for members. It's still not always as cheap as I could get from Amazon.com, but I'd prefer to pay a little bit extra to get the book a little quicker and support a local business or a brick-and-mortar store.
That said, while I prefer to buy in a brick and mortar bookstore, if they don't have the title I want in stock, I may buy it online. If I do go online, I'll go either to Barnes and Noble.com (since I get free express shipping and their online base price is about the same as Amazon) or to Amazon (one of my credit cards gives me gift certificates good for Amazon purchases).
Despite a negative online experience early on in my Barnes and Noble membership (I forgot to ask for express shipping, and it took longer to arrive than their tracking estimated by a good week), I've had generally good results with my online purchases there.
Barnes & Noble is the last chain bookstore in the area. There are five locations within 25 miles of my home (though Barnes & Noble has said it will be closing 20 stores a year over the next decade, which would be a third of its total stores; one or more of these is probably on the chopping block). Four have cafes, extra seating and nice decor, with occasional special events and book signings. One even has a large used book section.
I also like independent bookstores, but they're getting harder to find. About the only one in my immediate area is New Horizons Books, (20757 13 Mile Road, between Interstate 94 and the Speedy gas station; 586-296-1560), which has a good selection of books, a good and extensive magazine selection, plus used books, remaindered books and online coupons.
A bit further afield is The Book Beat (26010 Greenfield, in the Lincoln Shopping Plaza, Oak Park; firstname.lastname@example.org or 248-968-1190), a bookstore that is clearly owned and operated by people who love books, with every nook and cranny stuffed with titles, more in piles on the floor, plus greeting cards and for-sale art and artifacts on the walls.
When I'm looking for a secondhand bookstore, Second Story (17920 E. 10 Mile Road, Eastpointe; 586-773-6440) is an excellent one.
So, until and unless my wife and I move to an isolated part of the Upper Peninsula with no decent local bookstores, I'll do most of my book shopping in the showroom, not online.