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Do You Still Buy From the Bookstore?

Browsing paper-and-cardboard books seems to be a fading pastime as e-books consume the market. Have your book-buying habits changed?

Could bookstores soon become fiction?

Independent bookstores are few and far between, and chains like Borders already packed up and left a couple of years ago. Now, Barnes & Noble is shifting its resources from paper and ink to e-paper and e-ink. Store revenue has been declining along with print book sales, and even though the company says it's "fully committed" to the retail side of the business — it's shutting the books on unprofitable stores.

In the age of e-books and e-readers, as well as online deals, one reason that bookstores may be failing is that bookstore customers still love browsing — just not buying. They're going elsewhere for better deals or downloads.

So who has managed to keep shelves stocked during the literary apocalypse? Bookstores nearby include Berkshire Books and Half Price Books in Concord, The Storyteller in Lafayette and Sheila A. Grilli Bookseller in Martinez.

Do you still buy books from the bookstore, or do you just browse? How have you book-buying habits changed? Will you miss bookstores if they disappear completely? Share your experiences and thoughts in the comments below.

ChampagneKitty February 02, 2013 at 05:28 PM
I read a lot and only paper books. I do not own an e-reader. I also haven't paid full retail prices in a long time. I have books I got free from the county library system's annual giveaway. I also get them from the Friends of the Concord Library's book sales for $.50-$1.00 per book; even less on bag sale days. I have bought from Amazon, but only paperbacks from the Bargain Books section, which cost typically $5-$6 each. I have also bought from Berkshire Books. My selections from my visit in December were priced at half of the original retail price. By the way, I am acquainted with the owner of Berkshire Books and he says his store is doing well.
lamorinda mom February 02, 2013 at 09:59 PM
Yes, although I am a heavy library user I also buy books. Half from B&N for instant gratification and half from Amazon when I am not in a rush. I spend somewhere around $250 a year. Some from Half Price books in Concord and Bay Books in San Ramon. When I am done I donate them to the Elementary school "Bargain Book" sale and to the Lafayette library Friends book shop. I really don't care for e-Readers becauase I spend too much time staring at screens for work and for the volunteer work I do.
Giorgio C. February 03, 2013 at 02:01 AM
I'm a romantic when it comes to books and bookstores. I have a place in my heart for City Lights Books, A Book Passage, Depot Bookstore, A Clean Well Lighted Place..., Brentanos, Cody's, and the used bookstores of bookstores past in Berkeley and Albany. I can't believe I moved to a town without a bookstore, that being Hercules. Look at the shops on Rail Road. A skateboard shop, but no bookstore. The other day, I drove my almost 4 year old to B & N in El Cerrito. She was so happy to see the books, just as she is at the library. Then, like a bird-dog, she made a b-line for the toys that caught her attention. The books almost lost out to the competition, but she was pleased with our book purchase. Still, it was a close call. I do make purchases at bookstores, but I also appreciate the presentations and book signings. The other day, I noticed that the author of a book I was perusing owns an independent bookstore in Red Lodge, Montana. I thought to myself, how cool would that be? To own an independent bookstore in the town of Red Lodge, Montana. My wife and I have a dream about owning a bookstore, combined with a cafe-bar, with my wife making the baked goods. The only way to succeed would be if the emphasis was on the cafe-bar, right? The reverse format of B & N Starbucks layout. You could just have some books placed indiscriminately about the cafe-bar, maybe with a reading room. Or a computer at the bar so customers can order books from Amazon.
Jojo Potato February 03, 2013 at 02:21 AM
I bought a V.S. Naipaul book for $1 today at the Concord flea market. Should be good. Otherwise it's garage sales for a buck or less. I like to put a pile together and offer like two bucks for the stack and they usually take it. I'm not interested in something that needs recharging, regular paper seems to work pretty well. When I've read them, I take them to work and put them on the "giveaway" table. Fun to see who has picked up what. I'll miss that once I quit that dump!
SalthePlumber February 03, 2013 at 02:50 AM
I like to read real paper books and in recent years, I buy them on Amazon. Its really convenient to find what you want and order a slightly used copy from Goodwill or any of the other book vendors on Amazon's Marketplace. Why waste the gas?
Dan Perkins February 03, 2013 at 04:41 AM
Haven't bought a paper book since I got my kindle a few years back and don't miss lugging around huge tomes to work and back to read on BART one bit (I also won't miss not having to cart them from one house to the next whenever we move)
KFrances February 03, 2013 at 04:54 AM
Thank you Dan...It is true for BART and traveling, a kindle is great...light & simple. I still love book stores though too. I was at Orinda Books today and there is just something about the energy of a bookstore. It seems like people are in a good place when they are milling about in a bookstore. It's a good, non-judgmental vibe : )
KMC February 03, 2013 at 02:25 PM
I shop Orinda Books regularly and often visit B&N in Walnut Creek when I'm over there. I buy from Amazon and use the library as well, but do not own an e-reader. I've tried one and it just isn't the way I like to read. They also seem pretty expensive to me. Granted a hardcover book at $25 seems expensive compared to its Kindle version, but a decent size e-reader costs hundreds of dollars before you read a single line.
Doreen February 03, 2013 at 02:51 PM
I'm about to turn traitor. Going to buy an e-reader & donate hundreds of books. Will only keep my first editions, art books & other special items. That will free up a lot of space in my home as I'll be donating bookcases too. Believe I'll save money over the long run. Portability is the big draw as I read everywhere.
Linda February 03, 2013 at 03:24 PM
I resisted ereaders for a long time, but bought one for an extended trip and decided it was a fine way to read. Plus, I no longer have to cart around a bunch of books on vacation because I'm deathly afraid of running out of reading material. I prefer paper books, but am no longer a snob about it. I've also tried audio books, and they've opened up a whole new avenue for reading pleasure. Now I can "read" while walking the dog, doing dishes, gardening, etc.! I prefer paper newspapers too, but that hasn't stopped me from getting some info from electronic sources.
Brian Walker February 03, 2013 at 04:02 PM
Great book stores don't just sell books... They sell a love of books, a love of learning, and a feeling of being a part of the continuum of human intellectual evolution! Thanks to Sheila A. Grilli for bringing such a store to Martinez.
The Merry One February 03, 2013 at 04:05 PM
Walnut Creek's B&N is my go-to bookstore. It's just a nice place to shop and I can find everything there. I try to frequent as many independent bookstores as possible as well. I tried using an E-reader, but it's just not the same. Books take you back to your childhood; I spend too much time in front of a computer as is. I hope WC's B&N stays!
S. Lucier February 03, 2013 at 05:00 PM
I love, love the 'real' thing....the heft, the smell, the texture of a book. I love reading, falling asleep with it on my lap if that should happen. I buy at local stores, Amazon and book sales. Have no interest in e-reader altho' I fear we might all be forced to use one when availability of hardbound books diminish more rapidly. A community without a bookstore and all its magic (as stated by others) is a cultural deprivation.
nora urany February 03, 2013 at 05:39 PM
I only read regular paper books. I do not own a e-reader nor do I have any desire to get one. I work on a computer all day and love to relax on Bart or at home with a real book with paper pages. I love to walk around bookstores and looking at the cover art to see which one catches my eye. Then I read the back to get an idea of the storyline. I buy them at B & N, Halfprice books, Target, or any store that has a book section. I have shelves and shelves of books at home and I will not give any of them away. Many of my order books are not even available in print or even on e-readers anymore. Besides on a computer if you do not have power or some virius kills it there go your books. A real book just cannot be beat and I sure hope they stay around forever.
Bryn Thenell February 03, 2013 at 06:25 PM
I like them all! I use the library most of all because we are blessed with an awesome one here in Walnut Creek. I own an e-reader which I love because I'm never without a book, though I only buy the titles I'll read more than once or can't get any other way. I often get a book from the library to check it out, (heh), then buy the ebook if I love it. I like B&N for browsing, their magazine selection and buying books as gifts. (I also own their e-reader, the Nook.) I would love to see another small independent bookstore in town, I just don't know how they'd be able to compete. For those of you who want a novel, (heh again), way to send off a few of your old books see what you think about www.bookcrossing.com.
Michael A Herr February 03, 2013 at 07:42 PM
As the author of 8 books, all available on Amazon in both print and ebook format, I think people are definitely more into ebooks now, but that trend seems to be leveling off. Many of those who first come to my writing via ebooks come back later to buy the print format version. My wife and I have a library of over 4,000 books, but when I travel I always load several ebooks onto my iPad. In the old days we would take well-worn books with us, and leave them at the hotels we stayed in. www.michaelherr.com Mahalo.
Ivy Rangee February 03, 2013 at 09:46 PM
I use Amazon and the Kindle, but I still frequent bookstores to buy books. I love the comfortable atmosphere of bookstores. Also, online shopping has no equivalent to browsing through the stacks until coming upon an unexpected gem. Practically speaking, ebooks are great for a fast read; however, if I'm studying a book I buy a hard copy so I can underline, write marginalia, post-a-note and dog ear pages. For these books I like to see what I'm getting, so I trek to the book store and usually leave with a shopping bag full of books I didn't know I wanted.
Donald Pallotta February 03, 2013 at 09:48 PM
Library, Book Store, garage sales, e-readers, home computers...read, read, read! as they say..."It's all good!"
Melanie Knight February 03, 2013 at 10:11 PM
Berkshire Books owners are racist, they do not like Black people in their store. I know that for a fact..
"The Black Panther of Poetry" February 03, 2013 at 10:26 PM
How sad, Melanie Knight, if that's true!!! I mean books are suppose to "FREE" your mind so your behind can follow!!!
Orinda mom February 03, 2013 at 10:36 PM
Is this actually a Lamorinda Patch story? Because there are two independent bookstores in Lamorinda--Orinda Books and Canetti's, both in Orinda--that you didn't even mention! Plus I'd like to give a nod to the Friends of the Library groups that sell books at each of our Lamorinda libraries. Their sales help buy new library materials. Buy some of their books (great prices), then join your local Friends group. They can use the financial support. I buy and read books from all these sources, plus a few on my Kindle. I have to say, though, that when they set up the Kindle they made a huge mistake by not having page numbers. It's really hard to find a spot that someone is your book club is referring to. The navigation on a Kindle can be really difficult, too--it's so much easier to flip the pages!
Gr8Wahl February 04, 2013 at 05:41 AM
Friends of the Lafayette Library and Canetti's in Orinda are both great resources or Amazon.
S. Lucier February 04, 2013 at 03:56 PM
Great comment .....so true
Tom Chesterman February 04, 2013 at 06:25 PM
I love libraries, and I love to browse (and buy) in smaller bookstores. That said, I've become addicted to the convenience of Kindle and the e-format. Someone can mention a good book and I'm reading it in minutes, or just storing it to read on a trip. The only paper books I buy are ones heavy with illustrations or maps.
lovelafayette February 11, 2013 at 06:54 PM
http://www.codexfoundation.org/2013/2013.html If you are a book lover this show through Feb. 13 is for you. These are books at the level of fine art, many hand made one of a kind, others limited editions. I have never seen anything comparable. Prices from $15 for small prints/cards to thousands of $$. We walked in and out several times, I did not realize until I just looked online that there was a charge! Rosie the Riveter National Historic Park visitor center is also worth a visit, out the back door of the book show. This is the story of how Richmond was a small town of 23,000 that jumped to 100,000 after Pearl Harbor. http://www.nps.gov/rori/index.htm
Toni Steil-Bozym February 26, 2013 at 06:02 PM
It is discouraging to see the closures of our community bookstores as well as the threat to our larger vendors like Barnes and Noble. We can take some comfort in knowing that excellent books are still being written and are still loved by people who enjoy reading. One bright spot that still exists in Walnut Creek for those who continue to love reading a book they can hold in their hands is the Walnut Creek Library. And for those looking for an excellent bargain for quality books, the downtown Walnut Creek Library provides an excellent bookstore with a great selection. For anyone who hasn't yet visited the Friends of the Walnut Creek Library bookstore on the lower level of the downtown library, it really is worth checking out. And, as titles change and inventory is updated, coming in regularily will offer those of us who grieve the loss of our neighborhood bookstore the opportunities to keep our libraries updated and to continue to enjoy good reading.
Julie Laura Rose March 22, 2013 at 09:43 PM
The most amazing bookstore I've ever been in was in Tucson near the university, in 1972 (I'm pretty sure that was the year), a location that was a clothing store when I went back to Tucson a few years ago. This place would have just made your heart jump. It was huge and shaped like an L, with one or two areas with records you could check out on their stereos (I'm pretty sure there were two of these music areas), also teapots with hot water in a couple of places, I think a fountain (a large but quiet one) close to the entrance, and places all over to sit and read. There was also a hideaway at the far end of the store. To get into it, you climbed into a large hole hidden with the tall books on a bottom shelf area, and once you crawled in, there was another place to read, a well lit sort of closet. I hope I explain this so you can get a visual -- this area was a little deeper than the depth of two benches, and there was a ladder so you could climb up to the second level, where you could sprawl out on a cushion and read. (I guess there was something like a balustrade to keep people from falling out, but don't remember that clearly.) There was also a lower level with a cushion on which to sprawl and read -- it was like a bunk bed, but shallow, and built into the wall. THIS is my standard for a bookstore. It was so long ago, but I'm pretty sure there were new and used books, as well as the music.
Julie Laura Rose March 22, 2013 at 09:49 PM
I love bookstores and frequent them, but have such a large professional library and such a backlog of books to read that mostly the ones I buy are treasure hunted at thrift stores or garage sales because they had just come up in conversation or an article, and there they were. But I do buy books at bookstores for gifts, and occasionally buy new ones. I just really don't need anymore books right now. And that's a big shame, since I do really like frequenting and supporting LOCAL retailers. I guess one good way around this is to buy gift certificates at local bookstores, and get other people going in to them.
Julie Laura Rose March 22, 2013 at 09:51 PM
To support local businesses. Seems to me that as Sal the Plumber, you might be a local business too. Our community needs us to support it! Or else it will go away.
FAYE BULL May 04, 2013 at 01:36 AM
Bookshop Benicia!!!!! I love that shop. Independent bookstores are holy in my book! :-)

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