On the Near Death of Bookstores
About last month, i went to Robinsons Place Manila with my friend Ria to chase down a book that seemed to be out of stock everywhere. We were surprised to find out that Powerbooks Store in RP Manila have closed down, as well as the one in Mall of Asia.
Are Powerbooks closing down their everywhere? I can’t help but feel guilty. Really. Back when i still read physical books, my friends would often joke around that one wall in Powerbooks Alabang Town Center belongs to me. I’ve certainly earned my right to their “loyalty” card. I only have to walk in to a bookstore and end up with at least 4-5 book purchases. Then, i discovered the convenience of ebooks. Since discovering ebooks, i rarely, if not never buy physical books anymore. The first time i entered a bookstore (after i completely embraced ebooks) and came out empty handed, my heart really broke. I felt really bad that i stubbornly tried to find a book that i couldnt get an ebook version of. I ended up buying a local magazine, just so i get to buy something. After a few heartbreaking moments in the bookstore, i learned to be smart about it. I just whip out my camera phone and take pictures of the books i find interesting ( i totally judge books by their cover, sue me.) and the bestsellers list, find an ebook version of it. I only ever buy the physical book if i couldnt get an ebook version of (which is very, very rare)
So i really feel bad that most bookstores have closed shop already, or if not have branched out into selling school supplies like the Powerbooks branches in Alabang Town Center and Festival Mall stock predominantly school supplies nowadays, and a huge chunk of Fully Booked The Fort is dedicated to school supplies as well, the sameway as the Mall of Asia branch. These are only the bookstores i frequent. From what i understand, the other branches of these big-named bookstores have either followed suit (in selling more supplies instead of books) or shrinked considerably in store size. (although i find that there is more charm in cramped bookstores) and the smaller-named ones have died out already. I find this sad considering how a huge part of my childhood was spent inside bookstores
With that said, i still kinda think it is the bookstores’ fault for failing to change with the times. Heck, even the pulishing industry have recognized the growing demand for ebooks and have started offering more and more books digitally. Amazon started putting Barnes and Noble out of business (the same way Barnes and Noble killed hundreds of small bookstores) B&N started an online store with same day delivery, an ebook reader and ebooks to boot. I think if our local bookstoreswould start selling ebook readers (i know that there are good inexpensive generic ebook readers in taiwan and china. They could rebrand and sell them here for really cheap) and offer cheap ebooks ans sell those out of copyright classics for peanuts, business would boom.
If the price is tempting enough, i would so totally buy a fullybooked version of a tablet reader aaaaaand an e-ink powerbooks branded ereader!yes, i am crazy excessive that way! Lol.serioulsy though, they could even partner up with schools and publishers and offer ebook versions of textbooks. I bet the kids would love to get those heavy textbooks off their backs. ( they could offer it in purely e-ink format, that way they can ensure that the student is not busily updating her facebook status while in class)
Right now, a physical copy of Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice retails for around 200-500 pesos, depending on the publishing house and whether or not the copy is annotated. You can get an un-annotated ebook of Pride and Prejudice thru legitimate means (like project guttenberg) absolutely free. Why would i buy it for 200 if i can get it absolutely free. (but if, say powerbooks offers it for a “powerbooks brand” ebook,with “nice” layout or something, i would consider shelling out about 20-50pesos for it,and everybody wins.
Of course there is still the problem of piracy, but the cost of producing an ebook is considerably cheaper than that of a physical book, so if ebooks became cheaper, i can bet you my beloved kindle and iPad that people (here in the philippines at least) would start buying ebooks rather than pirate them.
Yes i do miss reading books on paper, i miss the smell of a fresh new book and that of a really old one, but the cons of going digital are simply greater than that nostalgic feeling. One, it is such a great space saver. Living on cramped cities has long made me appreciate the luxury of space. Two, there’s the convenience of having your entire library at your fingertips. Or at least in my case, the most of what i am currently reading. It simply is not practical for me to pack in my tons of gigs worth of ebooks in my reader. Three, there’s the saving mother earth bit. Let’s face it, paper products kill trees. And with the way mother earth has been lashing back at us ( great floods in my country alone, the tsunami, devastating hurricanes, etc) i really think we should scrimp on resources as much as we could. At least i’m trying to do my part by avoiding the use of plastics (plus, it’s a good excuse to get those cute eco-totes) and going digital as much as i could (minimizing the use of paper products) i’ve also come to terms with the fact that books are for reading and not for smelling. So there.
(posted via Blogsy for iPad)