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When #Bookshops Become Extinct, where will you Browse? #amreading

Today I stumbled upon a Clearance sale for books, another bookshop closing down.

I bought me a few books, Damon Galgut among them, and then tried to think when I’d bought the last book. Couldn’t remember then, can’t remember now.

book sale books gone extinctAs I browsed the bookshelves I kept thinking that 50 years from now, this would probably be an impossible, exotic experience. Letting book covers draw the eye, inhaling the scent of new books, running fingertips on the spines big and small, catching a familiar author or getting snagged by an intriguing title. 

Very soon, it won’t happen.

Music books alternative

In 20 years or so, we’ll only be left with niche bookstores for the nerds, like we have Turntable stores nowadays. A whole lot of my readers have probably never seen a turntable in their lives– but I have some memories of good turntable music from my childhood.

All things pass, but the passing away of physical books from our world would be particularly painful. I can’t imagine a library without books either.

Perhaps, adults of future generations would be nostalgic about Kindles and iPads (‘Remember those flat boxes we swiped fingers on, no holograms, no 3-d experience?’ they’ll probably say)
When bookshops become extinct, where will you browse? The thought of it hurts me. How about you?

Damyanti Biswas

Damyanti Biswas is the author of You Beneath Your Skin and numerous short stories that have been published in magazines and anthologies in the US, the UK, and Asia. She has been shortlisted for Best Small Fictions and Bath Novel Awards and is co-editor of the Forge Literary Magazine. Her literary crime thriller series, the Blue Mumbai, is represented by Lucienne Diver from The Knight Agency. Both The Blue Bar and The Blue Monsoon were published in 2023.

I appreciate comments, and I always visit back. If you're having trouble commenting, let me know via the contact form, or tweet me up @damyantig !

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  • Arlee Bird says:

    The demise of bookstores saddens me. When the Borders across the street from where I live closed, I bought a lot of books at very low clearance prices. It gave a nice addition to my home library, but I miss having the bookstore so convenient.

    Wrote By Rote
    An A to Z Co-host blog

  • Oh, that would be so so sad! Browsing bookstores is a great pastime. I hope it doesn't happen. I really enjoy your blog, by the way, you are the one who inspired me to sign up for A to Z ! Thanks!
    jetgirlcos visiting from Forty, c'est Fantastique

  • klahanie says:

    Dear Damyanti,

    Bookshops shall continue to exist. The reason being that there will be a demand for real books, even if it's just as a novelty collectors purpose. Many a bookshop thrives in Britain. With that, I shall now go and play some records on my turntable.

    Ah yes, duly noted about the fascination with the alphabet! 🙂

    Look after your good self, Damyanti.

    Gary 🙂

  • Susan Scott says:

    Nothing nicer than browsing in a bookshop. 2nd hand ones, the library, brand bookshops .. may they always be an essential part of our lives! But of course a Kindle is great as well ..

  • Anita says:

    Oh! Bookshops becoming extinct! That's such a frightening thought!
    I feel they will be rare, but will exist… at least we book-lovers can ensure this. Bookshops are so much fun 🙂

  • Rajlakshmi says:

    I remember spending hours in Oxford and crossword… such blissful experience. I feel going to a bookshop and browsing through different sections is part and parcel of book reading. It's sad that these bookshops are closing down.

  • anxiousgeek says:

    I can't imagine that, there not being bookshops. I volunteer at a charity bookshop now and it's really weird to think that in 20, 30, 50 years it might now be there, it might now be an option to just wander along the shelves looking for oddities. I spend so much time in bookshops it's a really scary concept.

  • David says:

    #Bookshops need really high speed internet and tech support for mobile/ereader and probably coffee. And new and used "books." And also a print-on-demand high speed printer and a bookbinding setup. Ebook cafe anyone?

  • I have seen my sister reading a novel on laptop. A few more people prefer to read on their phone screens or laptop. For me a touch of pages, smell of a new book, keeping a bookmark when I pause or else remembering the last page I read- is all a wonderful experience of reading a book. Then there is a vast book shelf that gives your home a meaning. I can not read a novel on laptop/mobile screen. People like me can't concentrate on long readings without a book!

  • Nicole Pyles says:

    I hate the idea of bookstores closing down! I tend to go to the library more these days though as I can't afford to buy books, but boy I do love browsing.

  • I cant imagine a world without books. eBooks are nothing as compared to the paperbacks. I don't think book lovers would let that happen even 50 years down the line 🙂

  • I cant imagine a world without books. eBooks are nothing as compared to the paperbacks. I don't think book lovers would let that happen even 50 years down the line 🙂

  • vbothransh says:

    You must have visited a place in Delhi, name is Daryaganj on week ends. You'll find thousands of Makeshift Book stores, selling latest to rarest books on the road. Here you can see living authors roaming around. Khushwat Ji, Shobha De …kinda.
    In my pov book stores and publishers will nvr go anywhere.

  • Nothing beats the smell of a book. I will never be without books in my house. It actually makes me sad to think how quickly our society is going paperless.

  • I still prefer to read the paper books rather than ebooks.

  • Gaurab says:

    I don't prefer reading e-books, I can't read them, they don't give me that feel. I like it when I mark the pages, underline the things which I felt important and then keep it in front of my eyes after I finish reading it. I think there are so more readers like me left so till you have buyers you will also have the business. 🙂 😀

  • "When bookshops become extinct, where will you browse? The thought of it hurts me. How about you?"
    It also hurts as well as scare me with the image spinning in my head. No books = no bookstores! You'll eventually have to get a detective to find these rare stores for you.

  • Believe it or not, I have a record player, and we know where to find all sorts of vinyl to play on it too. I think bookstores will be like that some day – not on every corner, but available to those who wouldn't know what to do without them.

  • Pam Margolis says:

    I work at a bookstore and they must stay open because I need a place to talk to kids about books!

  • shelly says:

    I had the same as Lexa. As for books, there are certain ones you want to hold. The Bible, the Torah, the Koran, and any book relating to history and science.

    God forbid, if we couldn't hold, scour, underline, and refer back to their nuggets of wisdom. It's hard to do this on a Kindle.

  • Lexa Cain says:

    I had a turntable and a double cassette-deck! How old are we?? lol I'm not nostalgic for them. Change is natural. That which doesn't change, dies.

  • mooderino says:

    There's still a lot of people buying vinyl and I guess books will always be around too, even if only as a niche thing.

    Moody Writing

  • I admit I've been an eBook convert for over three years now. I also purchase most of my music through iTunes, but there are still certain bands I'll buy the physical CD.
    I remember turntables and 8-track players. The latter had to die…

  • Angela Brown says:

    I'm hoping this isn't a question that has to really and truly be answered. 🙁

  • No. That's not going to happen. Print lovers will band together and stop it. They must. 🙂 ebooks are okay, but the smell? not a patch on the real thing.

  • Nooooo, bookstores can't go away completely. I'd be devastated.

  • This is one of the greatest tragedies of our time. I'm not sure I want to live in a world without bookstores–and if I live to see it, then I'll definitely be among the nerds in the specialty stores. And yeah, I remember turntables 😀

    Guilie @ A Hop Within A Hop: The A-Z Theme Reveal!