I used to love bookshops. When I was young, that's where I spent most of my money.
But these days? The few bookshops still in existence aren't real bookshops any more. The atmosphere, the selection, the whole essence has gone.
A few days ago, I visited several bookshops (in East Sussex, England). Shops that were once crammed with books from floor to ceiling and wall to wall were now selling stationary, greeting cards, party gimmicks, toys and gadgets.
The few books they still had - usually on a single wall - were a handful of bestsellers and a lot of books by television celebrities. Celebrity cookery, celebrity kiss & tell ... no thank you.
There was nothing - seriously: nothing - to tempt this reader. I mourn for days when I could walk into a bookshop and lose myself in a choice of thousands of titles. Today, in visits to several bookshops, I found a single book I wanted to read.
If bookshops don't provide a selection of books for genuine readers, is it surprising that genuine readers go online to shop for books?
It gets worse. One bookshop (that I would hesitate to call a bookshop, although it still had a shelf of books among the gadgets and toys) had a sign "Do not touch books unless buying."
Ahem. If I'm not allowed to pick up a book, to dip into it, to read the first couple of paragraph to see if I like the style, then I won't buy it.
Of course I'll go online where I can click 'look inside' or download sample pages to peruse at leisure.
If bookshops don't provide the selection, quality and experience that attract book loving customers, then they shouldn't complain if the customers stay away.
I hear brick & mortar bookshop owners whine about how Amazon is taking away their business... but I think they're digging their own graves.