I used to have bookshops in my life. Even though I don’t live in a city. There was Aurora books, owned by the son of my Dad’s best friend. There was a used book shop in Marinette, Wisconsin, and also BookWorld. (Twin city of Menominee, MI.) Then Aurora went out. More recently the lady that ran the used book shop for about 30 years died and the shop closed down. Now my mother says BookWorld is closing, too. And of course the bookstore in Marinette’s mall closed so long ago I don’t even remember the shop’s name.
Of course some lucky people buy books online but I know of so many people around here who don’t. Internet access costs money— about $50 a month for satellite internet if you don’t live in a town with cable TV/internet. For a lot of people in my county, that’s not worth it.
Once upon a time children who came from non-bookish families still had a shot to go into a bookshop and buy something with their allowance. But now that bookshops are vanishing, and functional malls as well— that means children and adults are confined to the kind of books they sell in Walmart.
One of the reason times have changed is that the overhead price for running a shop is going up while sales are going down. And price of running a shop goes way up when your shop is big enough to need employees. You may need to pay for their health care (instead of your own) and have to pay higher wages for workers who don’t do much work.
Another factor is that young people no longer need depend on books for entertainment. Even relatively low-income families have cable TV, internet, and games devices such as X-box. There is plenty to do without books— and when would your theoretical young person have a chance to read anyway, with the TV blaring during every waking hour?
One thing YOU can do, as a person who has access to the internet and possibly the ability to buy books online, is to share books with your reading friends who have similar tastes. Especially small-press and indie books. If your friend disposes of the book, in time, to a thrift shop, that one volume can go on to entertain still others.
That’s one reason that I like to buy a book in realbook form rather than kindle. While I don’t usually give books away unless they are horrid and not worth reading, I assume that when I am dead my books will be given to a thrift shop, and someone else will benefit from them.
The world is becoming a different place with the fall of bookshops, but I have no fear. We readers can adapt.