Over the last few years more and more big bookshops have merged. I believe this reduces the range of books being sold. When I walk into a bookshop like W. H. Smiths and Waterstones I see the same old children’s books on the shelves and almost the same stationery too.
Specialist books are not getting the publicity or shelf space they have previously had. This is why educational publishers tend to sell direct to schools and libraries rather than to bookshops.
One thing is clear the retailing of books has changed dramatically over the past few years. Supermarkets, such as Tesco, sell books at discount prices and buying books over the Internet, as e-books or second hand, has meant it pays to shop around for the best deal. This is not good for the reader.
As a reader, if you prefer YA trade fiction, sports books or cooking books the contraction in range won’t affect you, as prices will remain low. But, if you prefer more specialist books, your choice will be drastically diminished and the prices will rise. And if you’re someone who just likes to browse, your browsing range is restricted to the choice Waterstone’s, and W. H. Smith’s have decided to offer. This has a knock on effect. It means new authors will find it increasingly difficult to place their books with publishers, as mainstream publishers are concentrating on finding and promoting the ‘big hits’.
To combat this, we should be supporting our smaller local, independent bookstores. OK it may be easier, and more convenient, to buy books online, or to buy them with the weekly supermarket shop but it is reducing your choice as a reader. If books were sold at fixed prices, I do not believe it would change this buying trend.
This is my opinion. What are your views?