Books: Making a comeback

I watched a very interesting feature on the BBC yesterday. It seems that ‘real’ books are making a comeback. I couldn’t be more pleased to hear it. Although I have a few electronic downloads, I still have many real books, including quite a lot that wait to be read.

Nothing equals the feel of pages, the enjoyment of the weight and gravitas of a volume, and the wonderful cover art. The details about the author, often accompanied with a photograph, the publishing date, and other small details, including the ISBN number. Magical stuff indeed.

Waterstones is the largest independent bookseller remaining in the UK today. Not so long ago, they faced bankruptcy, and closure of branches. Their corporate image and identical store layout had left the public bored, and tired of the same old thing. Luckily, they grasped the mettle, and reinvented the whole idea of chain bookshops. They allowed managers to feature local authors, and to stock books that were both relevant and popular in the various regions. They installed comfy chairs for reading, and gave the bookshop customer the experience they had been looking for.

As a result, sales are up by more than 3%. That doesn’t sound like much, but it is the difference between failure, and profit. They have put in great displays, featured authors, held book-signings, and promoted special offers. Finally, we have an alternative to Amazon; and although it is slightly more costly, the buyers are flocking in their droves to experience browsing through actual books, and enjoying the weight and feel of paper, at long last.

Nothing really replaces a book. The cover, the smell of the paper, the physical presence signifying that you have an object of importance in your hand. That is something priceless. You can pass it on to a lover, a friend, a relative, a colleague. You can pack it in your luggage to enjoy on holiday, or prop it on your bedside table for reading late at night. No matter how many Kindle apps you have, or how convenient it is to hold a smartphone or tablet, nothing will ever replicate the feeling of physically turning those pages.

Books have been a huge part of my life. I never really relaxed with an electronic book. I tended to worry about battery life, extraneous light, and whether or not a title was available. If bookshops are enjoying a new lease of life, nobody could be happier that me. What great news, for a change.