ReaderAtTheStrandCanadian book chain Indigo continues to buck the retail book trend and turn a profit.

But anecdotally, as someone who lives impulse-distance to at least two Indigo stores, I have to wonder if that’s really about the books. The one location boasts an American Girl sub-store, and the other has an impressive stationery section based upon a quarter of a floor’s worth of Moleskine products.

There is definitely a shrinking of retail space for books in our book chain these days! But what I am noticing simultaneously is an interesting little uptick in book shelf space elsewhere. At the art store I regularly visit, the coloring books have slowly been crowding out the space where the sale table used to be. It makes sense, actually. Art stores often keep sample items for customers to try before they buy. This would make them a superior destination over Indigo for the customer who actually wants to buy a coloring book.

Similarly, a video game store which the Beloved enjoys has just moved locations to a much bigger space. Much of it is still, of course, occupied by video game gear. But there is a not-too-shabby comic book section too, and tables at the back where fans of such things can have meetups and do workshops. Given the dominance of character-related titles in the video game sector, it is a natural pairing. Where is the harm?

It has me wondering if in today’s era of information overload, where every interest possible can be well-represented, people even want a ‘book’ store anymore. Maybe they want a kid’s store (which happens to sell books) and an art store (which happens to sell books) and a sports store ;which happens to’ and so on.

Personally, I see nothing wrong with this model. I have always felt that the ‘print vs pixel’ either/or binary has been a false economy. Some genres lend themselves more to a paper treatment. Certainly, comic books and coloring books are an example. Why not give these books the deluxe retail stores, and save the pixels for novels and plain-text titles where it doesn’t matter? I will happily shop at the Kindle store for my fiction. But a nice art store with a good coloring book selection? I can spend hours there, trying out the different pens and markers, then choosing a book to go with them. It’s an experience. That’s what bookstores used to be!

Photo credit: Here.

Related: Amazon bookstores: Where they might go and what their real end game might be, in the Washington Post.

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"I’m a journalist, a teacher and an e-book fiend. I work as a French teacher at a K-3 private school. I use drama, music, puppets, props and all manner of tech in my job, and I love it. I enjoy moving between all the classes and having a relationship with each child in the school. Kids are hilarious, and I enjoy watching them grow and learn. My current device of choice for reading is my Amazon Kindle Touch, but I have owned or used devices by Sony, Kobo, Aluratek and others. I also read on my tablet devices using the Kindle app, and I enjoy synching between them, so that I’m always up to date no matter where I am or what I have with me."


  1. I have always loved used book stores, but over time have found that they are not worth the time, effort and money. Time and effort because while some are well organized, many are not. Money because they generally cost more, especially if they are well organized. Instead, I’ve turned to online book swapping, as well as buying used books for $4 to $5 (book price and shipping, e.g. a penny plus 3.99 shipping) from various places on line, including that big company.

    Once upon a time it was fun to discover authors and books at used book stores. Over time it seems that it’s easier than ever to discover authors and books online.

    If you are anywhere near Phoenix the second weekend in February, one of our local charities has a massive book sale. It’s been a social outing for friends and family for years, with some relatives making a vacation out of it. This year, it’s Feb 13th and 14th at its usual place at the state fairgrounds, see the Volunteer Nonprofit Service organization website for more info.

  2. This makes a lot of sense to me. Instead of mass market fiction in supermarkets, how about cookbooks? Urban Outfitters already sells hip books to match its clothing brand. Garden centers sell gardening books. Then we could still have small stores loaded with fiction and nonfiction. Coffee shops should sell better fiction. Airports. Bookstores are already becoming card, magazine, and toy stores. The old concept of the general store is the most sustainable for brick and mortar and scales well from country store to Walmart.

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