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Shropshire Star comment: Book sales turn over a new leaf

By Shropshire Star | Opinions | Published:

Taking on the might of Amazon must feel a little like David facing Goliath. The internet behemoth has snaffled a huge part of the UK book market and many independents have gone to the wall.

They cannot compete in a market driven by price when they do not have the bulk-buying power of the online giant.

While Amazon can push distributors and suppliers for increasingly good deals – passing on some of those savings to their customers – independents simply cannot match the power of their larger rival.

And yet there seems to be a revival among independent bookshops. The rate at which people are buying into new technology is gradually slowing as more and more people go back to paper and ink.

In some ways, the revival of physical books mirrors the revival of vinyl. Gradually, an increasing number of people are beginning to realise what all of us have all known all along; books are unbeatable.

The revival owes much to the enterprising spirit of independent booksellers. Entrepreneurial types with an eye on the bottom line, a creative approach to sales and marketing and boasting the sort of hospitality skills more frequently found in restaurants, are stealing a march.

They are putting the customer back at the heart of the book-buying experience, offering live events, author signings, readings, performances, cafes and fabulous coffee and cake. Bookshops are starting to provide the function that pubs once did; offering a place for people to meet, exchange ideas and conversation and explore what’s on offer.

It’s not the first time that we’ve seen a push back against new technology. In addition to the nation’s ever-growing love of vinyl, we’ve also seen improvements in local cinemas and arts centres that provide a great customer experience and offer levels of service that online giants do not provide.

While customers grow dissatisfied with remote, unanswerable tech companies that are hard to access and lack warmth, they are naturally drawn to stores that offer a human touch. And they are willing to pay a little more to support local stores and make sure they don’t close.

The revival has begun; long may it last.

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