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With the existence of small-business and family owned bookstores, reading becomes more than just a reader’s relationship with a book.  The formation of emotional connections to books bought in small side-street stores with used furniture and roaming cats, for example, makes buying books personal.  The book is no longer just something that contains a story, but the discovery of the book becomes a story in itself.  The customer walks away with a memory of a unique experience and at the same time helps support a local business.  Sadly, with rapidly improving technology and the way in which life becomes busier and busier, locally-owned bookstores may not be around—or at least not as easy to find—for much longer.

According to the Open Education Database, the development of major online retail companies and the increase in use of e-books are some of the leading causes in the decline of small bookstores. Not to be overlooked, though, are the efforts of large online shopping companies to make significant societal and economic contributions by creating thousands of new jobs and by making shopping even easier.  Unfortunately, there are some small-sided disadvantages that get overlooked by the convenience of online shopping.  For example, independent bookstore owners might be challenged with declining amounts of revenue and loss of customers when faced with the power of big business.

Despite the decline of bookstores being rather slow, it is still important to raise the question of how much longer they will be around.  Luckily, there is some hope for their ability to compete with the growing online market that is usually dominated by larger retail companies.  For example, independent bookstore owners can turn to Andy Hunter, creator of an online site called Bookshop, that focuses on the sale of books by independent booksellers.  Even though the emotional connection to books is amplified by making face-to-face connections by shopping at personally owned bookstores, Hunter’s shop is a helpful way for smaller stores to compete in the accelerating online market.

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Lucy Holland

Cal Poly '24

Lucy is a 2nd year business major at Cal Poly SLO! She is interested in writing about current events and popular trends. Lucy is currently planning on using her business degree to attend law school after finishing her undergraduate. In her free time she likes to go to the beach, hike and discover new coffee shops!
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