Online retail is going from strength to strength and is slowly squeezing the life out of traditional "brick and mortar" book shops, most of which are now hopelessly corporatized anyway, losing their soul and life. Anyway, what are these bookshop businesses doing to counter the onslaught of online e-Commerce giants like Amazon and Flipkart among the hundreds that exist? Nothing. Either they are clinging on in denial to the obvious fact that virtual stores are taking away all their business or they just don't care. I always like to buy books from bookstores for the experience of picking your own book from the shelf and so on, as I have detailed here. But this is becoming more and more arduous these days because bookstores seemingly don't want business. Here is my experience of visiting three major bookstores in Bangalore in the past couple of months.
- Sapna Bookhouse Residency Road (near MG/Brigade Road, behind the Hyundai showroom): Time of the day is 1955 or 755 pm, when most people pass through the place on the way home after work. I walk in to the entrance of the place. "Sir, closed hai". "What?" "Sir, shop is closed". "It is just 8 pm". "Yes, we close at 8." Great. a bookstore that closes at 8. Do they expect people to leave their offices and come to shop for books during the day time?
- Gangaram's, Domlur: I had to decide between two National Geographic magazines, so was ruffling through both of them trying to see which one had the better pictures. And I was told: "Sir, no browsing through the magazines. You will have to buy without looking inside". Great. Amazon allows you too look inside, I wanted to say.
- Crossword, Indiranagar: I walk in and ask "Where is Jeffrey Archer?" "One minute sir" after a minute the dude returns and helpfully informs: "Sir, there is no one by that name working here".
I am sorry, book retailers, but it will be only a matter of time before you crumble into the dust that has already settled on your shopfloors, unless you wake up, smell the coffee and change your business practices.