An article from Fortune, by Michael Edwards, the CEO of Borders, provides an interesting and optimistic perspective on the future of the traditional bookstore. Although Borders has recently been struggling—which many critics attribute to its lacking digital side of business—Edwards states that “there's no reason traditional bookstores and digital booksellers can't co-exist; for all their common ground, each offers a substantially different value proposition.” From his perspective, there is room for everyone to win.
Edwards goes on to state that, as the world becomes increasingly digitalized, the experience of paper books is accentuated, as the idea of reading words on paper becomes more appealing than looking at another screen. He also argues that bookstores have always been and will continue to be a social gathering place, and there are many options to add other aspects and activities that will appeal to and improve the experience of store goers—a platform on which digital-only providers cannot stand.
“The onus is on booksellers to prove their continued relevance in the digital age. If they continue to innovate in the services and experiences they offer and the ways they engage the community, consumers will continue to make bookstores a vital part of their lives. If they fail to adapt to changing market conditions and consumer needs, they'll deserve the empty aisles -- and cash registers -- that result.”