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Looking Into the Future of Bookstores: 4 Angles

There's lots of emotional activity over on my Facebook page—and everywhere else online!—about the future of bookstores. Some of the activity feels like examining the veins of the leaves on trees (e.g., I must have the ability to read my paper book in the bath tub, dammit!).

Let's take a wider view. When you read and see the connections among the following 4 articles, you'll get a good grasp of the forest.


Where Will Bookstores Be Five Years From Now? by Mike Shatzkin

We have definitely passed what Michael Cader has dubbed “peak bookstores” in the U.S. Shelf space for books is probably dropping faster than the number of stores as book retailers look for other items to keep their customers more satisfied and give those items space previously devoted to books. And shelf space available for publishers who don’t own bookstores is dropping faster than that because Barnes & Noble, the leading provider of bookshelf display space, is aggressively sourcing their own product both to improve their margins and to develop proprietary product not available to their competitors.

Is the Future of the Physical Book the Same the Same As the Future of Reading and Writing? by Daniel Nester

My point is that the idea of what makes up reading is changing. Books are going to be read with increasingly more convenient digital devices, and much of the nature of libraries and bookstores are going to change and even go away.That’s not a bad thing, and it should not be breaking news for people who are following things with a clear eye. The fear of what the future brings takes over most people who think about books and reading and writing in a way I can’t understand or explain, other than to say it has something to do with nostalgia and not a small dash of privileging one’s experience over what will soon be another’s. As well as keeping one’s job.

Against Reviews, N+1 Magazine by Elizabeth Gumport

Not only do we not want to read about Gary Shteyngart’s latest novel, we don’t even want to know it exists. Newness is not a fixed property. There must be a less arbitrary, more sensible way to encounter books, an organizational scheme better suited to identifying and highlighting excellence; one which doesn’t foreground mediocrities simply because they are the newest mediocrities. “Recent” is not a synonym for “relevant.”

What Books Will Become by Kevin Kelly

In the long run (next 10-20 years) we won't pay for individual books any more than we'll pay for individual songs or movies. All will be streamed in paid subscription services; you'll just "borrow" what you want. That defuses the current anxiety to produce a container for e-books that can be owned. E-books won't be owned. They'll be accessed. The real challenge ahead is finding a display device that will focus the attention a book needs. An invention that encourages you onward to the next paragraph before the next distraction. I guess that this will be a combination of software prompts, highly evolved reader interfaces, and hardware optimized for reading. And books written with these devices in mind.

David Adams Cleveland: On Truth Revealing Itself in Historical Fiction

David Adams Cleveland: On Truth Revealing Itself in Historical Fiction

Award-winning novelist David Adams Cleveland discusses the timeliness of his new novel, Gods of Deception.

Lisa Jewell | Writer's Digest Interview Quote

The WD Interview: Lisa Jewell

The New York Times-bestselling British author discusses creating thrilling plot twists and developing characters in her 19th novel, The Night She Disappeared, in this interview from the Jan/Feb 2022 issue of Writer's Digest.

5 Tips for Successfully Pitching Literary Agents in Person (That Worked for Me at the Writer’s Digest Annual Conference)

5 Tips for Successfully Pitching Literary Agents in Person (That Worked for Me at the Writer’s Digest Annual Conference)

Author Anat Deracine found her agent at Writer’s Digest Annual Conference. Now she’s sharing what she’s learned to help other writers become authors. Here are her 5 tips for successfully pitching literary agents in person.

Tips for Reading Poetry in Front of an Audience

8 Tips for Reading Your Poetry in Front of an Audience

Poet's Market editor and published poet Robert Lee Brewer shares eight tips for reading your poetry in front of an audience.

Plot Twist Story Prompts: Strength Lost

Plot Twist Story Prompts: Strength Lost

Every good story needs a nice (or not so nice) turn or two to keep it interesting. This week, let a character lose their powers.

Sharon Short | Point of View Quote 1

Managing Point of View: Mythbusting

In the first of this three-part series, novelist and WD columnist Sharon Short breaks down 7 of the most common myths about choosing which POV is right for your story.

Channel Your Inner Authorpreneur for Your Writing Labor of Love

Channel Your Inner Authorpreneur for Your Writing Labor of Love

As self-publishing continues to become an attractive and popular options for writers, it’s important to know what you’re getting into and to have the right expectations. Here, author and entrepreneur Tom Vaughan shares how to channel your inner “authorpreneur” to help your book find its readers.

Mark Kurlansky: On Coincidences Driving Memoir

Mark Kurlansky: On Coincidences Driving Memoir

Award-winning author, playwright, and journalist Mark Kurlansky discusses the experience of channeling Ernest Hemingway in his new memoir, The Importance of Not Being Ernest.

In-Between: Writer's Digest 2nd Annual Personal Essay Awards Winner

In-Between: Writer's Digest 2nd Annual Personal Essay Awards Winner

Congratulations to Alyssa Rickert, Grand Prize winner of the 2nd Annual Writer's Digest Personal Essay Awards. Here's her winning essay, "In Between."