Real-world bookstores are suffering. We all know why.
However, they are far from gone from our lives, and the iconic San Francisco bookstore Kepler's has been trying to make sure that that day never comes, by encouraging a group of experts to rethink the modern bookstore. Ron Charles of the Washington Post summed up their three-day discussions with a series of blogposts.
In the end, the group came up with eight foundational principles for the reborn Kepler's. The new store must:
1. Be financially sustainable.
2. Have a clearly defined mission.
3. Be dedicated to community outreach.
4. Serve as a gathering place for creative events and social events.
5. Support life-long learning and literary education.
6. Sell books in any form, on any platform.
7. Maintain a virtual presence, with technology fully integrated into the store.
8. Provide a carefully curated selection of books.
The bookstore is a physical experience that digital technology can't replicate. People like the idea that they exist, but they need a compelling reason not to save money by ordering from an online bookseller who has none of the overheads of a real-world store.
So bookstores will only survive if they make the most of the very attributes that make them not Amazon.
Here's a list of ideas, inspired by bookstores around the globe, that might just help the humble bookstore to survive for a few more generations:
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