A common complaint about living in Abbotsford is that there are no good bookstores. We have four, but your choice is Coles in Seven Oaks, Hemingway’s used bookstore, the House of James Christian bookstore, and Food for Thought if crystals and tarot cards are your thing.
Sure, it’s an eclectic selection, but we’re a city of over 125,000 people. We deserve some kind of ostentatious literary presence in our town. I watch every big box development with baited breath. Maybe the shell of Linens & Things will be resurrected as a Chapters. Perhaps that giant red thing will be- aw, it’s just a Shopper’s Drugmart. It’s like we’re the town that doesn’t like to read.
To make matters worse, I think we’ve just passed the point where big box bookstores are profitable. Most of the books I buy are marketed and purchased entirely online. I see an interview or a video from the author and I just sashay down to the Chapters website where everything is (almost) always in stock and cheaper than the brick and mortar store.
Is the idle pleasure of browsing a bookstore doomed to antiquity?
Having an actual physical store is different enough from online retail that we should have them well into the future. The question is how to monetize real life stores. I think we’ll see something akin to the hyper-competitive retail market I saw in Tokyo. Every store had to compete with hundreds just like it in the area. There was nothing they wouldn’t do to try and get customers to spend time shopping. There were streetside barkers, brightly coloured (and colourfully written) deal signs, animated displays, and don’t get me started with the cross-promotion! Who would have thought of using a maid cafe to market transformable cell-phone robot toys? Whatever form brick and mortar retail takes, the common factor is going to be the passion of the salespeople. As much as I hate using that word, if you are going to sling books like a machine, you might as well get replaced by one.