If you follow the book business at all you are well aware that brick and mortar bookstores across the country are falling prey to what they call “showrooming.”
Showrooming is when a customer comes into the store and browses books, finds books they want to purchase, but instead of purchasing in the store they go home and buy books cheaper from an online retailer.
Some neighborhood booksellers cite this as a reason many are going out of business. The model they are set up under, having to pay rent for a location and not having the wiggle room to discount as deeply as Amazon, they can’t compete.
So what should they do?
An article on WashingtonPost.com asked the question whether brick and mortar bookstores should consider charging customers to browse. They quoted Victoria Barnsley, UK HarperCollins CEO, as saying it’s “not that insane.” She said bookstores would become like ‘book clubs.’
However, most of the retailers they asked said this was not an option they’d consider. ”“If it comes to charging admission for customers to browse, we’re done,” said Mark Laframboise, the manager of Politics & Prose in Washington.”
I have to agree. I doubt I’d ever go to a bookstore where I had to pay to browse. And despite believing we should support local bookstores, with the economy the way it is most people are going to go for the cheaper option. And who can blame them for that. However, I do think it’s wrong to specifically ‘browse’ and buy elsewhere.
What do you think of paying to browse? How can a small neighborhood bookstore compete? What are your suggestions? What kind of store would you love to visit and buy from? And return again and again? What would make you a loyal customer?