The Importance Of Local Bookshops In The Age Of Amazon


There is no doubt that we, as a society, have fallen victim to fast, cheap, and efficient options when it comes to buying just about anything and everything. In this day and age, we can purchase a product online and get it just a few hours later. While this is advantageous for many reasons, it is also harming many industries. Both authors and the publishing sector, which includes books, journals, and audiobooks, are particularly affected.

Why Are Local Bookshops Important?

So, why do local bookshops play such an important role in society? Not only do local bookshops support the economy, but they provide new emerging authors with exposure and recognition while also acting as a community hub where people can meet and converse. 

The Challenges Bookshops Face In The Digital Era

Although many individuals understand the importance of and appreciate their local bookshops, many others don’t – especially in the digital age. In the age of e-books and online shopping, local bookshops have faced a serious challenge. 

One of, if not the biggest, challenge bookshops have faced is Amazon. In fact, five years after Amazon’s 1995 launch, the ABA reported a 43% drop in bookstores. The rebound for bookshops only began around 2009, two years after the arrival of the Kindle in 2007. 

Amazon has always been renowned for their frequent cheap book sales and bargains, but not many people know the true cost of these deals. To put it into perspective, since Amazon’s arrival in 1995, the number of independent bookstores has decreased by 63.2%.

Why Are Books From Amazon So Cheap?

In short, cheap books are a loss leader. This is a strategy that companies, including Amazon, use when they discount a product so low that they lose money to attract new customers or get you to buy other products. In the case of books, this is also a tactic to drive competitors out of business.

Cheap books help Amazon gain market control, which will give them a near monopoly power. This is not good for anyone – authors, readers, or publishers. This is why it is important to support local bookshops when you can. 

I Don’t Have A Local Bookshop, What Do I Do?

In the unfortunate event that you lack access to a local bookshop or don’t have one in your area, you can still support them from the comfort of your home.  Most local bookshops offer an online alternative now, making it easy for you to purchase and browse the books from home. If you don’t have a local bookshop, you can search the Internet to find one you like. You can also show your support by following them and sharing their content on social media. Many local shops have newsletters you can sign up for, which feature the latest releases, events, and more. For a small fee, some local bookshops offer online events, which is another way you can support them. If you have some disposable income but don’t fancy any of the books they are selling, you can often donate directly to the shop via their website.

So don’t worry, there are plenty of ways to support and cheer on the local bookshops!

Reasons To Support Your Local Bookshop

The strength of a local bookshop lies in the deep connections it maintains with its community. So, if you’re looking for an excuse to buy a new book, we’ve put together a long list of reasons to leave your house and go support your local bookshop:

  • Buying from local businesses generates 3X more economic benefit for your community.
  • Independent bookshops support local and up-and-coming authors.
  • Independent bookshops offer a community space for adults, children, retirees, and families – generating a lot of conversations.
  • Meet new people in your local area who share similar tastes in books.
  • Free bookmarks!
  • Many independent bookshops host a variety of events, including book clubs, author talks, and writing groups.
  • Roughly 28% of all independent bookshop revenue immediately recirculates in the local economy, on the other hand only 4% of Amazon’s revenue recirculates into the local economy.
  • Bookshop dates with your friends or partner.
  • The people who work in your local bookshop genuinely care about books.

Some Of The Best Local Bookshops To Visit In The UK

  • Juno Books, Sheffield – Located in Sheffield’s Chapel Walk, Juno Books is a friendly feminist and queer community bookshop. Juno Books aims to champion marginalised voices, highlight independent presses, and help you find your next favourite book. They also host a variety of writing workshops, book groups, and author talks.
  • Voce Books, Birmingham – Voce, proudly located in the heart of Birmingham, was voted one of the UK’s best independent bookshops by The Times in 2024. They support independent publishers and host a variety of book launches and author talks.
  • Gay’s The Word, London –  Gay’s The Word, the UK’s oldest LGBTQ+ bookshop, was founded in January 1979 by gay socialists as a community space, reinvesting all profits back into the business. They host a variety of events and offer a wide selection of books, including non-fiction, fiction, and classics.
  • Wave Of Nostalgia, Haworth – Wave of Nostalgia is a bookshop themed around strong women, situated in the village of Haworth, the home of the Brontë sisters. It offers an array of beautiful and unique items for all ages. From Suffragette, Feminist, and LGBTQ+ themed products to vintage stationery and so much more. 
  • Heron Books, Bristol –  Heron Books, Clifton’s only independent bookshop, is located in the historic Clifton Arcade. The shop offers 4,000 fiction, non-fiction, and children’s books in a cosy space, along with personal recommendations, bespoke gift lists, and events like a monthly poetry series and book groups.

Overall Thoughts

Essentially, taking the time to explore independent bookstores, purchase directly from publishers, or even visiting second-hand bookshops is far more rewarding than buying from large retailers like Amazon. By making this extra effort, you provide significant support to booksellers and the community. You’ll discover new authors, books, and meet people who genuinely care about literature. Going this extra mile in your research offers far more benefits than you might imagine.

Words by Emily Fletcher


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