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When was the last time you bought a book from a bookstore? #amreading

Yesterday I went to the Kinokuniya bookstore in Takashimaya, found myself a chair, and settled down with a cup of hot chocolate at the cafe.

It was only much later, once my husband was done shopping for his business management books, that I realized what had happened.

This was the first time I had stepped into a bookstore in months, and instead of looking around, browsing, developing a crick on my neck like I did before, I had calmly walked through, flipped open my iPad and begun to read.

When was the last time I bought a physical book at a bookstore? I can’t remember.

I read 3-4 books a week, so I haven’t stopped reading. Most are e-books, and the hard copies are ones I borrow from the excellent Singapore National Library.

It made me feel sad and strange– as if I’d lost a part of me, like I’d changed as a person in a major way. I now follow book blogs and a lot of my reading decisions are made on the internet– I’ve lost that yen I had for impulsive discovery while gazing over book spines.
Has this or something similar to you happened recently? When was the last time you bought a book from a bookstore?
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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  • So funny, we are quite the opposite in the sense that I've never read an e-book. I haven't figured out the e-book thing. I still spend way too much time in bookstores (I do love it:), and way too much money on books. I also imagine, reading e-books could save me a pretty penny. But, so cool that you are reading a great deal. It's admirable! (I'm new to your blog… it's lovely!)

  • Hey.! Nice post. I just realized I have been to a bookstore as a kid.. I don't read e-books but I buy paperbacks from online portals..

  • DMS says:

    I bought a book from the bookstore within the past month. πŸ™‚ I love books and have them in piles waiting to be read. I don't have an ereader and one of my favorite ways to spend a few hours is to visit a bookstore and browse the shelves. πŸ™‚


  • Laura W. says:

    I hate waiting for a book to arrive in the mail. I'd rather just go to a bookstore. πŸ™‚ I usually make one browsing trip, online or in the actual store. Usually, browsing in the store is easier. Then I list the books I might want. I might also look up reviews. If it seems like the book in question is a good buy, I return to the store and get the book. Sometimes I make impulse buys at bookstores, though. πŸ™‚ If a book comes highly recommended, I'll keep an eye out for it whenever I'm in a bookstore. The last time I bought from a bookstore was last week. Sometimes I'll come to the store with a book in mind, and if they don't have it in stock I'll ask to order it. No shipping fees, and they just call you when it's in!

  • i was always fascinated to read a book (hard copy) rather than its soft copy….and being a student i have every chance to go to book store and buy a book…. it sarisfies me when i have a book of mine not the borrowed ones… eye catching post… as the technology advances we are forgetting the inner satisfaction which we get from reading a book holding it in our hand sitting on a chair concentrating every word to find ourselves in them…. this post freshened up the old memories…:-)

  • Geoff Maritz says:

    A very interesting post. If you read through the comments you can recognize a definite flow. The earlier comments seemed to reflect a tendency to rely on digital, whereas the later comments reflect a tendency towards purchasing paper books. I'm inclined to enjoy the paper version. I've never actually downloaded an e-book but I do read blogs. Take my advice, don't get rid of your paper books, you'r children will so appreciate them later in life. I love reading my mom's books like "The old curiosity shop" and "The water babies."

  • Henal Jasani says:

    I am a book hoarder and love to read read novels in real pages. So, for me never has this occured πŸ™‚

  • maggietudor says:

    When was the last time I bought a book from a bookstore? A year or two ago, I bought "The Lighthouse Cat," by Sue Stainton and Anne Mortimer, for some children. When it comes to purchasing adult books, I blush to say that Kindle has spoiled me rotten.

  • Li says:

    For some reason I have great difficulty in reading e-books. I have 3 that have been loaded and waiting for months. I used to buy a ton of books when I worked at Borders Bookstore part time. Now, of course, they are out of business and I have limited funds. I rely on second-hand stores and flea markets for the bulk of my purchases, but I still buy a few new books a year.

  • Guilty as charged…I still spend too much money in bookstores. We have a tradition every Christmas Eve, to open our Christmas books. They used to be only about Christmas, but as the kids grew up, now they are about anything and everything. I'm truly looking forward to the exchange this year, because I think my husband and I found some really good ones that my kids are going to love. Naturally, I found a few to start reading right away too. Luckily, it was the 1/2 price bookstore, or I might have blown the budget! lol

  • Wow! I buy physical books still, ebooks rarely. Last time a few days back. Apart from everything else, ebooks don't have that new paper

  • Yvonne says:

    I have to admit, I only buy e-books now. I haven't been to an actual bookstore in awhile.

  • I have all my flipkart and amazon memories intact. A bookstore? Can't recollect! :/
    Nice post. Forces readers like us to rethink about the technology we have embraced!

  • Yep, I'm still into hard copies πŸ™‚ I know, got to get with the times, but at my age… πŸ˜‰ No, that's nonsense. An old dog learns new tricks same as a young one (and I have the dogs to prove it). It's just that I *love* physical books. I love the feel and weight of the actual paper in my hands, the heft of its substance, the–oh yeah, the smell. Whether brand new or second hand, or stored in my bookshelves for decades, a book has a smell that takes me places. That said, I don't get to shop for books very often in my island, since the two bookstores here mostly stock the trendy vampire / 50 shades type, so most of my bookshopping happens when I travel. In PerΓΊ earlier this year I stocked up on Spanish books, not as many as I wanted but enough to tide me over. In Holland over the summer I found some treasures, too. Forget clothing or shoes: the bulk of my luggage when I travel is books πŸ˜€

  • Three books last week. Chekhov's short stories, Lady Chatterley's Lover, and Anthony and Cleopatra – because it's obviously about me! On the other hand, I've never bought an ebook, which I probably should because I write them.

  • Soham Roy says:

    Hard Copies are always a better bet. Certain things are better the way they always were…Not everything can be enjoyed Online…

  • Even with all these ebooks I still actually prefer the real physical thing. I bought a novel from a bookstore about a month ago. I love folding down the corner of a page, or using a bookmark to keep my place. And above all I love skimming the pages and getting a SMELL of the book!

    Duncan In Kuantan

  • Trisha F says:

    I bought 2 books the other day (this weekend just gone), but not from a bookstore – I went to a department store instead. πŸ™‚

  • leswest2013 says:

    I'm actually quite a slow novel reader, although I can speed read. I can savour a novel over a week, or even a month. I use local libraries as a) it's free and b) I'm not gathering yet more clutter. I do recommend books to friends and family, but most of those have tablets or a Kindle.

    Only my best friend and I actually read physical books, and I do make positive comments at work when I see a customer carrying a good old fashioned book. My best friend's husband follows my book recommendations then downloads them as audio books to listen to at work and when cycling (he's a wood machinist).

    I still occasionally buy reference books in discount book shops, but the last time I visited a book shop and actually bought a novel was for my best friend last Christmas. I don't visit book shops regularly anymore, although if I am ever in the city centre I still tend to gravitate towards them.

    I still prefer the functionality of a large, clunky laptop and the feel and smell of a real book. I don't imagine I'll ever own a tablet or a Kindle (I'm 46 BTW).

  • I went to a bookstore just last week. I didn't buy any books–my TBR pile is still too large–but I did buy a couple comics!

  • Priya says:

    It's funny, a couple of months ago I'd have said Yesterday! But now I've been increasingly buying e-books. It's just so convenient; although it is kind of sad and strange for me too.

  • Months ago but I bought two paperbacks online for myself last month. Books in Jamaica are way too costly. I got two paperbacks on TBD for less than the price of one in local bookshops. But most of my books have been e-books with the exception of winning multiple paperbacks and a hardcover in giveaways.

  • several months ago…

  • Marian Allen says:

    I bought Edward Rutherfurd's PARIS in hardback from a local independant bookstore a month or so ago. I don't buy many; my husband buys more than I do. I tend to buy electronic or used from the Friends of the Library book sales, but I love Rutherfurd so much, I wanted to do him the honor of paying full price for a hardback bought in person from a brick-and-mortar store.

  • Less than a month ago when buying Christmas presents. Though I am appreciative of those of you who buy lots of books not in stores, as mine is one of them. πŸ™‚

  • I've pretty much converted to reading novels on my kindle. BUT, I did go into a bookstore yesterday to get books for Christams presents. Lots of them!

  • Though I read e-books , still I've a strong urge towards the hard copies. I buy books from or Flipkart almost every month. πŸ™‚

  • shelly says:

    I read from my Kindle Nd don't always pay attention to what others may say about a book. Every book should be given a chance.

  • It's been several years since I purchased a book from a store. All of my books are on my iPad.

  • This is true for me as well, Damyanti. I buy everything online these days. I'm not sure which was the last paper and ink book I bought.

  • I go to bookstores to browse, then buy what I want online latter.
    I can't remember the last book I purchased for myself, but I do buy them for relatives.

  • Pallavi says:

    Its been a while, a few months at least. I usually buy books when I am traveling . Haven't explored Singapore library yet, but I must! πŸ™‚

  • The last book I bought is Only love is Real by Brian Weiss. I have many ebooks downloaded as well. But the kind of pleasure I get from hard paper backs cannot be matched by ebooks I feel. πŸ™‚

  • I bought Water for Elephants almost a year ago. There is a charming little book store in the town next to mine that I try to support, but obviously I'm not doing a very good job at it.