The evolution of bookstores and what digital publishers can learn from this

Bookstores are evolving to become not only a bookstore, but an experience.

It sounds like pure marketing rhetoric, but it’s not. In an age where Amazon’s predominance in both physical books and eBooks is now more or less the status quo, it’s a necessity.

For a bookstore to remain successful, it must improve “the experience of buying books,” says Alex Lifschutz, an architect whose London-based practice designed the new Foyles flagship store, which opened in June 2014. Foyles, who pioneered the staging of literary events, have done just that.

Lifschutz commented that the new venue will be easily accessible whilst retaining the “quirkiness” which customers said distinguishes Foyles from its competitors. There will be plenty of nooks and crannies for literary contemplation between its 10,000 shelves. They also expect to enjoy considerable revenues from its new 200-seat auditorium, which will be used for talks and concerts as well as a new café.

Digital can learn a lot from the evolution of bookstores…

Buying a book, to many people, is a personal and emotional experience. Unless a consumer already knows which book they wish to buy, they’ll want to browse, flip through a few pages, get a feel for the story, perhaps a character or two and the manner in which it has been written. Does it click with them? This is something that will always be advantageous to the physical bookstore as a concept.

Publishers need a way to emulate the experience of a bookstore, in a digital world. The most recent research shows that, in spite of the doom and gloom surrounding the now-exhausted “print vs. digital” debate, print books have significant staying power.

Why is this? Well in many ways it’s down to things that are quite hard to replicate with any digital device, aspects such as how traditional books physically feel, the actual process of turning pages and so on. Tablets and other e-reading devices have made this attempt at imitation through digital books easier, but it still struggles.

That’s why we’re using BookSnacking as a way to reproduce the look, feel and purpose of a bookstore. Using BookSnacking, publishers are able to offer their customers a hassle-free zone to try out bits of new books, without being burdened by password walls and sign up barriers.

It’s clear that performance is key in modern web environments. Readers expect instant access to the material they want to read and don’t want to deal with lengthy loading screens. Customers, when offered free material or trial products, become frustrated when impeded from obtaining it to the point that even well-meant obstructions, like a sign-up form, will leave them with a generally negative view of the product afterwards. The key is to tailor the product in such a way as to avoid this, after all, reader engagement can’t be fostered unless the reader themselves can access the material in as hassle-free a way as possible.

Readers are therefore better serviced, not only as a result of high performance web services, but because the browser-based environment of the BookSnacking e-reader means there’s no need to download any individual app, for what’s essentially a service offering free snippets.

Categories: eBooks

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