Home » Bookstores » Bookshops are back – because you can’t meet a lover on your kindle

Bookshops are back – because you can’t meet a lover on your kindle

25 February 2016

From The Independent:

There is nothing like the romance of a bookshop. A living, breathing behemoth where people wander around in dreamy circles, bump into interesting strangers, flirt, buy a book, go for coffee, fall in love, get their hearts broken, then go back for consolation. We know this from films of old, from 84 Charing Cross Road and The Big Sleep to  Manhattan, Notting Hill and You’ve Got Mail. This is the “How We Met” story that we would like to tell our children and friends: “Oh, we met in the poetry section of that old bookshop in 1984, and look at us now!”

Well, now we can. Again. For a while, it looked as if the story might be a defunct one with the rise and rise of digital bookshoppery – the e-book, the print-on-demand book, the Amazon juggernaut. Why bother wandering around a shambolically dusty, second-hand store looking for an obscure favourite when you can surf the clean, clinical surfaces of your laptop? Why pay £7.99 for a paperback when you can get it on your iPad for £1.99?

. . . .

Because we want to. Because the physical bookshop holds, more and more, a lure that digital can’t quite emulate. The latest and most romantic of offering is Libreria, a wondrously sprawling venue in the East End of London, which is 830 square feet of books, and more books.

. . . .

We are also choosing the letter over the email – a new trend to tweet letters is a joyous mash-up of old and new. Shaun Usher’s brilliant project –Letters of Note and its sequel – must surely have something to do with the return of the letter, not just in giving us the beautiful, coffee-table books he has put together but also the live events attended by the likes of Benedict Cumberbatch. The “physical”, it turns out, holds an appeal that cannot easily be surpassed by virtual technology, which is most life-affirming.

. . . .

Poems That Make Grown Men Cry was throwing down a gauntlet in 2014. It dared those who had kept tender displays of emotion battened down over centuries to pick though its pages and not weep.

Link to the rest at The Independent

Poems That Make Grown Men Cry, Posts That Make Grown Men Laugh, what will booksellers think of next?


56 Comments to “Bookshops are back – because you can’t meet a lover on your kindle”

  1. Isn’t that what Tindr’s for? I’m asking for a friend.

  2. “Bookshops are back – because you can’t meet a lover on your kindle”

    From those same people most likely to try to pick up girls at their family reunions …

    (This is why the people no longer go to bookstores, they’re tired of getting hit on! 😛 )

    • Well, half of the people, maybe. The other, masculine, half, I don’t think it’s tired of getting hit on.

      • No, even men like me can get tired of it too. I still remember being around 14 and being hit upon by a 40 year old man in our local used bookstore. For some reason I wasn’t interested.

        The owners daughter and the mid 30’s woman working the register though were pretty interesting to me though I never did hit on them.

    • Back when I was unmarried and young and cute: I hated when guys would try to hit on me in bookstores. I was there for the books, dammit!

  3. Getting hit on in bookstores is right up there with the guys who ask how to get on the Wi-Fi at Starbucks.

    (However, observing the phenomena was good fodder for writing those awkward slice of life scenes before the heroine meets the hero in a romance.)

    • You know, I’ve been to a lot of bookstores in my time, and I’m reasonably attractive (definitely moreso in my earlier years), and I was never, ever hit on in a bookstore.

      What’s wrong with me? Did I go to the wrong bookstores? Wear the wrong clothes? Bought the wrong books?

      I don’t understand. This guy says bookstores are for lovers.

      I feel so unloved.


      • Meryl, any of the Barnes & Nobles or Murder By the Book in Houston were the place to go if you wanted to attract the attention of the opposite sex and not bother with the club/bar scene on the Richmond Strip. Can’t say for certain now, it’s been nearly three years since I’ve visited those places.

        Honestly, B&N might survive if they had a singles night and a wine bar as well as coffee. And maybe more poetry to make men cry. 😆

      • Well, it ‘might’ have been what you were looking over as they approached — only to turn with their tails between their legs when they saw you looking at a murder/romance book. Or you might have been looking at books that suggested you had a mind larger than that of a flea — and they knew their pick-up lines would fall flat.

        Or you missed the little sign in the door saying which hours the ladies ‘weren’t’ allowed to pepper-spray the bad pick-up liners … 😉

        • Or you might have been looking at books that suggested you had a mind larger than that of a flea — and they knew their pick-up lines would fall flat.

          Now Allen . . .
          Can’t say that I ever succeeded in picking up a woman in a bookstore, but my wife and I often went on Friday night dates to a bookstore with a coffee shop attached and drank mocha and tea and ate scones and hunted through the aisles of books for something to feed our hungry minds.

          Once I got a Kindle, those bookstore dates ended.

  4. We are also choosing the letter over the email…

    We are? Really? Since when? And who does this ‘we’ refer to?

    I still send birthday cards, thank you notes, and notes of condolence. And I’m probably considered an old fogey for doing so. But even I don’t write letters.

  5. Ah, yes, that’s what I miss about bookstores. Picking up chicks. yessir.

    I’m pretty positive if Amazon wanted to turn Kindle Unlimited into a dating site, they’d be pretty successful.

  6. {snicker…}

    Lotsa other places to hook up at. Love will find a way. 🙂

    (And this seems like a pretty flimsy reason to go to bookstores, BTW.)

  7. Another desperate sounding excuse trying to justify a physical bookstore.

  8. Since when is 830 square feet “a wondrously sprawling venue”? Sounds to me like a cramped little hovel.

    • I was wondering if that was a typo.

    • 830 is a wondrously sprawling venue for a Manhattan apartment!

    • That’s 100 sq ft smaller than the apartment where our son and his wife lived right after they got married. They were crammed in there with the two of them, her two-year-old daughter, a large dog, two cats (but only room for one litterbox; one of the cats came to live with us for a while because one litterbox for two cats who are just being introduced to each other is not a happy situation), and a parrot named Rambo. “Wondrously sprawling” is not a word I would have applied to that setup.

  9. PG,

    Can you please stop quoting these articles from English papers? It’s bad enough having to share a country with people who produce pretentious rubbish but it’s embarrassing when you publicise it so that the rest of the world laughs at us.

    Surely the US must have its own supply of idiotic snobs to quote?

  10. First, I’ve never been hit on in a Bookstore.
    Second, I’m married so now I have to forbid my husband from going to bookstores.

    I have KU. I don’t need to leave the house. Thanks, Amazon!
    (There are no bookstores in my city. And I’m not driving to another county to visit a BN when I know I can find what I want cheaper on Amazon.)

  11. I give Libreria 6 months, until the money figures out what it got itself into.

    How about a few more bookstore closings, since the last time I checked?

    2/2016 – Book Exchange in Kokomo In threatens closure
    says closing the doors might be inevitable
    “the customers slowly had been dwindling to where, some days, the doors rarely opened.”

    2/29/2016 – C&W bookstore closing in Woodbridge Va
    liquidating after 25 years
    “Our lease is up and we cannot afford the rent increase,” the store staff posted”

    3/2016 – Left Bank books in Greenwich Village (NYC) closes
    liquidating after 24 years
    “the costs of maintaining the store are just too much.”

    3/31/2016 – Mostly Books closing in Gig Harbor Wa
    going out of business after 47 years
    “Closing the store was a business decision after enduring almost two decades of the ups and downs of small business ownership”

    4/22/2016 – Book Exchange in Springfield Or closes
    liquidated after 32 years
    “foot traffic has declined drastically.” She said she went from slow to dead.

  12. Add me to the collection who didn’t know you could get picked up in a bookstore. Then again, maybe that’s what that one guy who asked about Honor Harrington was trying to do …

    I’m intrigued by this “writing letters” business. I think the last letters I wrote were 20 years ago, in high school, to a cousin I had never met at that point. My uncle had just been transferred from Germany to a base in Texas, and Grandma suggested writing to the cousin. I used to draw comical illustrations on the envelopes, and then she started replying the same way.

    I wonder how old-school these neo letter-writers are? Dare I hope they use wax seals and write on parchment, with quill pens, or fountain pens at least?

  13. Ewww, gross.

  14. Rather bizarrely, the subject of this article is also quoted by the Independent as source from an article posted on 02/21, Amazon, the ‘Darth Vader of the literary world’, is crushing small publishers, former Downing St adviser claims


    Rohan Silva, who will launch a book shop called Libreria in London this week, told The Daily Telegraph that the Government should refer the situation to competition watchdogs.

    Does the Independent always swim in such a small pond? And with a first name like “Rohan,” shouldn’t Amazon be Sauron instead of Darth Vader here? (I kid, I kid.)

  15. “Desperation is a stinky cologne.”

  16. Poems That Make Grown Men Cry was throwing down a gauntlet in 2014. It dared those who had kept tender displays of emotion battened down over centuries to pick though its pages and not weep.

    I have an image of some guy in a trench coat standing in the poetry section rubbing pepper in his eyes.

  17. It just so happens I met my wife at B&N. We corresponded on a dating site, and since we both love to read, and write stories, we felt B&N would be a good “safe” place to meet for the first time.

    We talked until the store closed at 11 pm. We saw each other every day from that point on, and we were married two years to the day of that first meeting. We’ve been having a heck of a great time ever since…

    • But you found her online and then went and picked her up in store. You didn’t find her browsing the stacks with a free whiskey in hand. 😉

      • But but, if Amazon rules the world he would have had to meet her at an Amazon ‘Pickup Point’, which just sounds so wrong!

        More seriously, I tentatively brought up marriage to my wife(seperated now) in a B&N while visiting the states years ago. Your story is cooler Werner. 🙂

  18. I’ve never hit on a woman at a bookstore, but I remember when I took my newborn son to Borders. I’m no catch, but apparently pushing a stroller in a bookstore made me much more interesting.

    • When our twins were infants, my husband regularly took them grocery shopping, jogging, and out to a sandwich shop to meet one of his runner friends. All of the above to give me a break. He always brought back stories of the conversations that ensued, but the most attention came in the sandwich shop, because his friend also had twins (toddlers). Two dads with twins! 😀

  19. So, how long before bookstores take on eHarmony as the next great killer of the B&M stores?

  20. The latest and most romantic of offering is Libreria, a wondrously sprawling venue in the East End of London, which is 830 square feet of books, and more books.

    How many is “books and more books”?

    Googled “How many titles are available on Amazon”. Found this dated 2014 July 5.

    Amazon currently listes 32.8 million books for sale comprising:
    Paperbacks 22.9M
    Hardcover 8.1M
    Kindle 1.2M
    Audio CD 351k
    Board Books 138k
    Audible Audio Books 42k

    Is “books and more books” more or less than that?

  21. I met my husband the old-fashioned way, in college marching band. Because that’s what marching band is for (well, and if you like to play in instrument, and for football games, and a requirement for music majors).

    I’ve always hated it, and still hate it, when strangers try to socialize with me when I’m shopping. (This doesn’t apply to if I run into a friend at the store; that makes a chore I hate doing more enjoyable.) I’m there to buy stuff I need, darn it, not to entertain you with random pointless conversation. These days, it’s mostly old ladies (older than me, anyway) in the grocery store wanting to complain about how much everything costs.

  22. I’ve been going to book shops for decades. I’m single, so apparently I’ve been doing it all wrong.

  23. Smart Debut Author

    I propose a new Amazon algorithm to replicate this experience:


  24. “Bookshops are back – because you can’t meet a lover on your kindle”

    What the hell? I thought everyone met their soul mates in the same place…a bar.


    (Thirty five years and still happily ever after…if you were wondering.)

  25. Really, this could be a whole new application of also-bots.

  26. That headline gave me the first good laugh of the day. 🙂

  27. As a point of etiquette (I’ve been out of the dating game for nearly 40 years) is it ever okay to speak to women in libraries? I realise that bookshops are out but the Bodleian used to be a good place to make a new friend over a mutual interest in a text book.

    Or does it have to be a university library and both of you students?

    I have to admit that very many years ago I was tempted to approach a pretty girl or two in the rather intimate confines of what was then London’s best SF bookshop. It was a real turn on to see a woman who liked SF enough to have even found the place. However, I was far too shy to do anything about it – which no doubt pleased the girls and prevented me turning into “Creepy Guy”.

Sorry, the comment form is closed at this time.