By Andrea K. Hammer
News about rising bookstore sales and the announcement that New York-based Shakespeare & Co. will open in Philadelphia this summer have punctured the long-term predictions of bookstore doomsayers. Since the demise of Borders in 2011, devoted readers have steadfastly maintained a watchful vigil over Barnes & Noble as a central destination in Center City.
Independent Bookstores Still Thriving in Philadelphia
During the industry’s upheaval in recent years, some independent bookstores in Philadelphia are still thriving in off-the-beaten-track locations. Joseph Fox Bookshop, a small store tucked down a flight of stairs on the basement level of Sansom Street, draws faithful diehards. Head House Books manages to pick up foot traffic on the other end of town from the Society Hill and Queen Village crowd.
However, in Center City near Rittenhouse Square, Barnes & Noble has commanded solo court as the main chain bookstore. With the prospect of renewed competition–from an independent bookstore–a couple blocks down on popular Walnut Street, book lovers’ pulses have quickened. Fond memories of hours once spent comparing selections, prices and cafes have come flooding back in vivid colors, with renewed hope for prosperity in the city and industry.
New Bookstore to Fortify Commercial Enterprises and Local Economy
For those who never recovered from the loss of Borders, Shakespeare & Co. offers great promise. They dream of rediscovering deliriously happy moments among aisles with books stacked on the floor and cushy chairs in quiet corners for peaceful contemplation. Avid readers and freelancers who once turned to Borders as a second home and office long for that unique cross between a homey library and comfortable living room, where ideas and thoughts have the freedom to roam freely.
With another bookstore alternative to explore on one of Philadelphia’s main streets, increased numbers of visitors may spike bookstore sales even further. Facing the future with a competitive edge, Shakespeare & Co.‘s book-printing machines are anticipated to attract additional interest. The new service and bookstore in Philadelphia has the potential to fortify the local economy and nearby commercial enterprises–providing a model for any city.
Brick-and-Mortar Bookstores Still Matter as Unique Community Centers
For those who have faithfully continued to believe in the possible revival of brick-and-mortar bookstores, this hopeful sign embodies why these venues still matter. Beyond offering a place for experiencing eloquent words and helpful insights on the page, bookstores serve as unique community centers. They are a communal physical location for listening to authors during in-person readings, exchanging ideas with fellow readers and thinkers, catching idea sparks from shelves of books and pondering new ideas while lingering over coffee in the cafe.
In short, bookstores encourage authentic human connections while allowing visitors to explore different experiences. Why do you think that bookstores still matter? Please post a comment now!
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