Shop-Talk: Brick and Mortar, Online, and Me

An interesting article came across my desk last week that got me thinking about bookstores—I mean physical bookstores, as opposed to online merchants—and how what I say and how I behave often don’t intersect. Here’s the article, which is basically predicting the demise of B&N and other big-box bookstores (well, I guess Books-a-Million is the only other one left now?).
First, a disclaimer. I don’t own a bookstore. I don’t personally know anyone who owns a bookstore. I made a conscious decision not to commercialize this blog site. I write books that are sold online only, and I write books that are sold in brick and mortar stores, including Barnes and Noble. When I did my little book tour for Royal Street, my signing at the Barnes and Noble in Birmingham was among my favorite stops.  
As an author and a believer in free enterprise, I would hate to see Barnes and Noble fail as Borders did. I hate to see independent bookstores struggling, although they seem to be rallying somewhat. I want people to be able to stumble across my books as they wander through the stacks, reading cover blurbs and pondering cover art. I’d hate to see the vibe of a bookstore disappear, whether it’s the small specialty store filled with wall-to-wall books or the sprawling two-story behemoth box. I mean, I would freaking love to LIVE in the Barnes and Noble store in the New Orleans suburb of Metairie, and I spent a lot of time there.
But, as an author, I also like that people who live in rural areas or towns too small to support a big-box store or outside the U.S. can still find my books online. The closest Barnes and Noble to me is an hour’s drive away by interstate.
As a reader, though….I have to be honest. It’s easier to buy online, even when I’m buying print books. (And, yes, some of my online purchases are through B-and-N, although most are from Amazon because of free prime shipping). I work long hours. I don’t have time to drive to a mall and browse during hours when the stores are open. I usually know what I’m looking for and can find what I want in a matter of seconds instead of driving across town to a bookstore that has only a general selection in the genres I read, composed mostly of best-sellers. 
As a reader, I’m exactly the person physical bookstore owners despair of: a voracious reader and buyer of print books who rarely sets foot inside a brick-and-mortar bookstore anymore. Now that the digital revolution has arrived, well…let’s just say it’s not that unusual for me to be downloading an impulse buy at midnight.
So as an author and a supporter of the open marketplace, I hate to see any bookstore closing its doors. I hate to see less competition. I hate to see the tradition and romance of the bookstore going away. I pray it doesn’t. It might look different. The niche stores (like the fabulous Murder by the Book in Houston or Mysterious Galaxy in Southern California) might be the future of bookstores–if I had access to those stores, I’d be there a lot. 

 Talk about mixed feelings.
What are your thoughts? What percentage of your book purchases are made online versus in a physical bookstore? Do you see that changing? 
One commenter will be chosen to win a choice of titles from my Book Horde list. Let’s talk!

72 thoughts on “Shop-Talk: Brick and Mortar, Online, and Me

  1. I think about 50% of the books I buy are at a B&N. Have been a member a long time. Most of those purchases were at Christmas time for gifts. Think I bought twenty books and two gift cards in December. Most of the books I buy for me are online from Amazon.
    And most of those are pre-orders of my must buy authors new releases.

    • I’m glad to hear folks are still buying in stores, Roger! We do have a Books-a-Million within reach across town, but it doesn’t have a huge urban fantasy/para-rom section (although River Road is there–I checked, LOL). Like you with B&N, I’ve been an Amazon Prime member since they started it…maybe seven years ago. They lose money on me through free shipping 🙂

  2. I love bookstores but times are tight and I usually go where the deal is best which, most of the time, is Amazon. I’ll go to B&N to browse, buy magazines, get kid’s books for my daughter, and get gifts. If I get hardcopies for myself, I usually go to my local used bookstore (which supports the public library), use, or order via Amazon. It saddens me too because I love bookstores, I really do. I just have to watch the dollar signs when I’m feeding my habit. 🙂

    • I should have mentioned price in my discussion. It’s a huge factor, especially these days when the economy is bad and mass-market paperbacks are disappearing. As an author, I wish the prices on my books were lower, especially on the hardcovers. So I hope people buy the book, but given a choice between $24.95 at the bookstore and $17 at Amazon or $18 at B&N, well, you can’t blame someone for buying online…or going to a library. I also have been known to frequent Goodwill and Salvation Army book bins–if you have time to paw through stacks of junk, you can find some treasure 🙂

  3. I like just wandering through my local B&N bookstore. It is easier for me to browse the aisles in a brick & mortar store than online. However, most of the books I read come from the library. I just don’t have room for anymore books, my two-car garage is just about full of thousands of books. I know one author that I no longer read because of her rants against readers who use the library for her books, instead of buying them. I wish I had unlimited funds and space for books, but I don’t. I do have an e-reader, but I just prefer the feel of a real book in my hands. I read over 150 books last year; if I had bought every book I read, I’d be broke and have no room in my house 🙂

    • I love libraries! I practically grew up in my small-town library–some of my earliest memories are sitting in the little round tables in the children’s section, devouring Mrs. Potter books :-). It was really gratifying for me last summer to be able to go back to my small hometown and give a talk at the library where I’d spent so many hours.

      A great thing about libraries, too, is interlibrary loan. So if your library doesn’t have the book you want, they can get it–usually very quickly.

      I agree about room for books–it’s why I give away so many books on this blog. I just don’t have room for them. I’ve gotten very picky about the fiction books I buy–usually my favorite authors. I’m more likely to experiment with new authors in ebook format because it’s less expensive.

    • Oh, and I guess I should say that a lot of the physical books I buy are nonfiction–for research, mostly, since I tend to do a lot of research for my books.

  4. Nearly all my books are purchased from Amazon for the same reason you buy yours that way – I live in a small town with no bookstore other than Walmart. The nearest B&N is at least 30 minutes away. When we’re in that town, we do go and browse the store and ALWAYS buy books there. I actually buy more books (print and ebooks) since I got my first Kindle than I did before.

    As much as I would love to have a bookstore in town, I’ve never had a good experience with indie bookstores, mainly because the ones I’ve been to in the past have been super snobby about genre fiction. That’s really put me off and the prices at Amazon can’t be beat. Lower prices mean I buy more books.

    • I did go to bookstores more when I lived in a larger city but, as you say, there aren’t that many options here beyond bestselling general fiction. I live in a college town, so there are quite a few bookstores but they’re heavy on textbooks and college T-shirts 🙂

  5. I would say I buy most of my books, about 75% online for Amazon.I also but used books from my local library. I do go and spend hours in my local Barnes and Nobles and Half Price Books and buy 20% of my books from these two brick and mortar stores. I believe more people will but online but local bookstores will always be there. There are still some people who don’t have computers or who won’t but online and I can’t see the more popular brick and morat stores failing. Unfortunately, the small mom and pop stores will probably fail because they don’t get the ttraffic the larger stores do.

    • I remember when B&N, Borders, and Books-a-Million were expected to drive all the smaller indies out of business, and that didn’t happen. Amazon and the whole online market is much bigger, and I’m wondering if the big-box bookstores are the ones who’ll feel the crunch more than the mom and pop stores that can still provide a personal service and relationship with customers. It’s going to be interesting to see what happens in the next few years!

  6. I buy almost all my books online, for the reasons you listed. I buy multiple books per week, and since the only “bookstore” in my town is Walmart, I must drive an hour to the nearest B&N. I know it stinks, but what can I do? There are a few independent bookstores an hour away, but again, I buy a lot of books & the price difference between Amazon & an indie store is Huge. Besides, a lot of the books I search for arent even stocked in stores!
    Oh, I also buy tons of ebooks. The price is right (b/c I usually get Amazon deals & self-pubbed) and the lack of space they require is perfect.

    I don’t feel like I said anything new here. Thanks for the discussion.

    • A couple of folks have mentioned Walmart, and I’m trying to remember if I’ve ever bought a book at a Walmart or a grocery store or a drugstore like Walgreen’s that used to carry books and magazines (my local stores don’t anymore). I don’t think I have.

  7. Well I can’t say much about big chain bookstores because in my neck of the woods we don’t have any 🙂 And since I live in a small country we actually don’t even have a lot of bookstores at all, especially outside of a few bigger cities. This is mostly because of the rather poor relationship between publishers and retailers ,mostly because of the arguments over the prices of books and retailer overhead costs which have spawned cultural, economic and even political debates for as long as I remember. The end result being the fact that most of the reasonably successful bookstores are in fact owned and operated by publishers (and they naturally favor their own books over those of other publishers, offering discounts, promotions, signings etc. for their own books).
    Domestic internet bookstores are just getting off the ground really and the local e-book market is almost nonexistent at this moment (probably due to to the lack of availability of e-readers…you just wouldn’t believe some of the regulations for importing a Kindle device for instance) and those seem to be the reasons more and more people are turning to the international internet stores…every time I have gone to the post office to pick up my books I saw dozens of Amazon packages. Not to mention the price difference, because even including international shipping costs, some of the books (and I mean those that might be available in specialized bookstores…most of them are not) come out at least 30% cheaper.

    So what I really wanted to say is that I understand very well that a lot of people don’t live close to bookstores and that online retailers offer them a service that they really need (something I see as a simple continuation of mail-order catalogues and similar services and not a deliberate attempt to kill brick and mortar places).
    On the other hand I love holding a book in my hands and leafing through it before deciding to buy it which is a feature not yet available online 🙂 So I hope the brick and mortar places will survive…because we need a place where we can have book signings and while away some time when going shopping (and going to a bookstore is always a good excuse to leave the house :))

    I won’t even mention the choice between e-books and physical copies because that would take a whole another rant 🙂

    Btw I love this new shop-talk feature. Thanks for the interesting discussions.

    • Thanks, Vins–great comments. Your post made me realize how much we take for granted in the US with all the choices we have for buying books. In fact, making books available outside the US for readers who can’t otherwise find them is a huge plus for online retailers, especially Amazon, which has its fingers in a lot of countries. And Amazon, I believe, owns Book Depository, where a lot of my international giveaways are purchased because of the free shipping.

    • Yes, Amazon has bought Bookdepository last year. I am happy that the shipping is still free, but the prizes have at least gone up 1 euro. Pre orders are now 5,30 instead of 4,20 and well, that is a big difference if you see how many books I buy.

  8. I probably buy 75% of my books online since the Borders near my house closed. The nearest B&N is a half hour drive and most of the time I go to get a book they don’t have it in stock. The only indie book store near me is a used bookstore about a half hour away. I go in there every few weeks and usually manage to pick up at least a few books.

    • Used bookstores are great places to browse because you never know what you will find, but in my experience you need time and patience unless it’s a well-organized store. (My local ones aren’t–everything’s lumped in together.) We didn’t have a Borders anywhere within a hundred miles so it didn’t really impact me, but I know those store closings affected a lot of people.

  9. For physical books I tend to buy the books in a physical store and most of these shopping trips are unplanned. I’ll walk into a bookstore or any store with a book section, browse and pick up a book or two. I like the convenience of getting the book right away rather than waiting a couple of weeks. However, when I do plan on buying a book I usually check online for deals or end up buying from an online retailer. It could be that the books are harder to find (usually the book sections in non-bookstores only have bestsellers or books by popular authors) or the ease of just being home and clicking buy.

    I find I am buying a lot of ebooks lately and so long as the price is cheaper than the print copies I will buy it. Mostly the online purchases are for indies or books heavily discounted.

    • Ah, the impulse buy! That is one thing I do less of now that I’m shopping more online. If I stumble across a book I want online, I will stick it on a wishlist to see if I want it a few days hence. Although I tend to impulse buy more with my Kindle.

  10. I would have to say that ~80% of my books are bought online from either Amazon, B&N, or TBD. I also sometimes buy from Bookcloseouts.

    If I do go to a brick and mortar store, I usually go to B&N since I have a membership and use their 30% off coupons there, but sometimes I do buy mass market paperbacks from Target since they are normally 25%.

    I know I should visit indie bookstores, but they don’t seem to offer competitive prices and it’s more of a hassle to get there distancewise. And now that I have a Kindle Fire, I may switch to buying more digital books, especially since my bookshelves are totally overflowing!

    Thanks for the giveaway,

    • is a great site, if anyone isn’t familiar with it. Check out the “scratch and dent” section, especially. I can do some major damage at that site. I love the feel of a printed book, but I do enjoy my Kindle Fire!

  11. I have to confess that at least 80% of my books is bought online, but that is mainly because the books i like to read aren’t stocked at my local bookstore.

    The foreign language section is small and the Fantasy/SciFi section of that is even smaller.

    I could ask them to order my books for me, but the store prices are 20 to 60% higher than what I pay at bookdepository. And while I don’t mind paying more for a book when it’s immediately available, I chose the cheaper option if I have to wait for my books to arrive anyway.

    • That, I think, is one of the biggest reasons to shop online. I remember when I first discovered Amazon–back when nobody had ever heard of it yet–and being amazed because they had EVERYTHING. And still do. There’s literally no way a physical bookstore can compete in terms of selection. My BAM lumps sci fi, fantasy, urban fantasy all together, then can’t quite figure out where to put paranormal romance. Sometimes it’s in romance and sometimes in SFF.

  12. I was brokenhearted when Borders closed its doors in my city. It was a wonderful book store with a fabulous, knowledgeable staff and the bookstore itself had a very relaxing feel to the entire place. I would go weekly, and always get at least a couple of books with me each time I went. My one local independent bookstore isn’t very good at stocking genre fiction.. I’ve tried to start a conversation with one of the assistant managers about making a place for more genre fiction books and was politely told that they would stock what they wanted, I was out of luck. *shrug* I don’t go in there anymore. I LOVE Mysterious Galaxy.. but my choices are 40 minutes/ 2 hours away.. so I don’t visit as much as I want. I don’t shop at Barnes & Noble anymore. Lack of stock I want, apathetic staff, vs. being able to order it and have it on my kindle or within a few days with Amazon shipping just makes the choice that much easier.

    Price and convenience play a huge role in my picking up books nowadays.. the choices around my location really don’t offer much in that aspect.

    • There was a great Borders only a couple of blocks from my house in New Orleans. If I have time to kill and am in the area, I do like to hang out in the big bookstores, have coffee. Great place to find gifts since so many carry non-book items now. But convenience and price, in the end, are going to win out, I think.

  13. Oh wow!!I had no idea about BN. I have to say that probably 95% of my books are bought online,because for one I am disable and can not always get out to a store. And another we don’t have a BN store here in Huntington WV Even though Borders and now Books a million was right here in the Huntington Mall I still found it easier to order online. I have several online book stores that I order from. I would hate to see BN go under as I just got my Nook Tablet and love it! This is very disturbing news. Thank you for letting all of us know about what might happen!
    Happy reading and writing*

    • Oh, I don’t think BN will be going anywhere soon–the writer of that article was just extrapolating from a decline in the company’s last quarter earnings. They might scale back. They might specialize more. They might beef up their online model. They’re struggling, I think, to figure out how to make their Nook relevant to the brick and mortar store. So I think it’s premature to think they’re going out of business. That article just made me start thinking about how I love bookstores…and yet I don’t often shop in them.

  14. Do you have any indie/used bookstores near you? I’m a bookseller in a used bookshop and I love it. Because we take books from the public, our inventory changes every hour. Every day I’m presented with a completely new store and I love that. The prices certainly don’t hurt either!

    So often customers tell me they come to our shop first to see if we have what they’re looking for, rather than hitting up the B&N a few minutes away. Personally, I don’t blame them. This past Christmas my boyfriend & I went to buy a book for his cousin and I completely forgot how expensive B&N is! $35 for a hardcover?!

    There are certain authors/series where I’ll definitely shell out the cash in order to have it RIGHT NOW and I’m a little too in love with my nook, but the majority of my books come from used bookstores.

    • There are two used bookstores in my area. One is geared to poetry (nuff said); the other is total chaos–six rooms of paperback books in no order whatsoever. So I rarely go there. When I lived in Houston, there was a huge used bookstore near me that I went to all the time–it was awesome. And I did a signing at a bookstore in Katy, Texas, last spring that was a combination of new and used books and it was wonderful. So part of it is opportunity.

  15. I do most of my book buying in e-form, but I agree…there is nothing like a real bookstore. I’m blessed that there is a B&N, a Half-Priced Books and a Joseph Beth Booksellers within fifteen minutes of my house. But note: I usually buy “other” stuff there…magazines, tchotckes, pretty blank journals…

    But unless I find a deal on a used book online, I’ll buy my Dead Tree books at one of the Brick and Mortar stores.

    • I’m doing more and more buying in digital form. The exception is research books, which for some reason I prefer to have in print. Probably so I can dogear pages and write in them (horrors!). I used to drool over the blank journals at the Barnes and Noble when I lived near one.

  16. I buy both online and in store (and big box as well as indie). I have a BN very close to my house and shop there fairly often. Anytime I’m in a place with an indie, I hit it up as well (and there are two big indies a little bit of a drive from my house when I have the chance to go). Mostly I’m an opportunistic shopper — if I can’t find something specific in store, I’ll go order it online, but it’s rare that I walk out of a bookstore without making a purchase.

    Frankly, having worked at both Borders and BN, I think if BN goes oob, it’ll be down to poor management & some of the same bad decisions Borders fell to. I guess only time will tell.

    • From a business standpoint, it’s interesting to see that, what, maybe ten years ago there was a big uprising against Barnes and Noble and the big-boxes because they were destroying the indie bookstores. Now, Amazon is the behemoth and Barnes and Noble is finding itself in league with the indies. So it will be interesting to see where it all goes. In some ways, it’s a good time for authors. In other ways, it’s a really scary time.

  17. I miss Borders. I had one right across the street from work and I was there at least once a week. I bought a lot of books there. Now that it is closed, I think I have been to B&N twice. It is not as convenient and they do carry as many of my favorite authors. I love my ereader so now most of my purchasing is on line for both ebooks and print books. But nothing can replace just browsing the aisles and stumbling upon a new favorite book. I also have been using my library a lot more frequently. They have really had a surge in purchasing new PNR and UF books. As a matter of fact, I requested your Penton Vampire series be purchased and I just received a notice that they have decided to do so!

    • Yay, Liz! I’m glad they’re buying the Penton books. Purely for selfish reasons, of course–LOL. But I’m glad to hear libraries are getting more genre fiction. I know libraries are struggling with the whole ebook issue as well, and that’s another situation I’m not sure how it will be resolved.

  18. I have to admit, I buy all my books online at Even if a “real” bookstore here in Holland would have the book, it would be over 2 times as expensive. And I want to buy as many books for my money as possible. I also buy a lot of secondhand books online, I am a bookaddict and just want whole backlists, and whole series in one sale.
    If the paper copy doesn’t excist, I do buy the ebook at Smashwords, as I cannot shop at Amazon. I do get some of the freebies there though.

    • Bookdepository is great, with its free international shipping. I use it a lot for my giveaways. Brick and mortar stores can’t compete because of overhead and storage issues, which limits the amount of discount they can give (along with publisher/distribution issues). So I’m not sure what the answer is. I do love being able to order online at midnight and have a book delivered in two days, though.

    • Lol, try 5 weeks. I could walk to England faster than the mail delivers the book to me. Which is very very frustrating sometimes with the most wanted books.

  19. Our local bookstore is a little hole-in-the-wall. They usually never have what I’m looking for but tell me they can order it for me…which I usually turn down because I can order it for myself and save myself the hassle of driving back (weeks later) to pick it up.

    A town 45-50 minutes away has a Barnes & Noble, but I’m hardly over that way, and to drive there just to look at books seems a little frivolous to me…I can stay home and take that $20-$30 it would cost me in gas and just go online and order more books. Whenever I do happen to make it there I usually pick up a gift card or two to use online.

    I don’t know if this is entirely kosher, but when I find myself in a bookstore and I stumble across something I think I may like…I take a picture of the cover with my phone, then look it up online to see if there’s an ebook version.

    ALL of my reading these days is done via my Nook. Sadly, I think 2012 found me purchasing only 4-6 physical books. 🙁

    • You are not alone. I’ve read that a lot of savvy book buyers are doing that. You find the book in the physical store, then can price-compare online. There was a big brouhaha over it just before the holidays. I understand the bookstore folks don’t like it, but money’s tight and people have to do what they can to save. Like you, I’ll go to the BN that’s 45 miles away if I’m in that town anyway, but it’s just too expensive to make a special trip to browse for books.

  20. Hum all my french edition are bought in local bookstore. We don’t have really big chain i mean some supermarket have a small ( ridiculiously small) book section, some other chain more general (ex fnac) has a book section but i love small bookshop too! with huges shelves filled up to the ceiling ^^

    So french books, in those shops or second hand bookshop ( when i discover something i didn’t know before, want to discover etc)

    For book in english that’s more difficult, yes there are some at the fnac or at waterstone ( both are at 1h of trein from home)but the prices are so huge sometimes 2 or3 times the price oline. Also the biggest trouble ( becaus ei don’t mind spending a little more for an author i absolutely adore) is that they reduced the sections, now they have big best sellers yes but new titles? authors new or not so well know no or old tiltes and still.
    Even big author i mean for me patricia briggs is well known…. we get the new release 8month after the release date while it was pre ordered before said date ( not pre ordered think 1year at least. i really regret that so part of those books are bought online so i can have access to them ( still i regret the augmentation of the bookdepository prices too)
    Still i keep buying a part in the bookstore because i like the exchange too

  21. @Miki…That must be frustrating, although it’s really not so different with the bookstores here. It’s easy to find James Patterson and Stephen King, but if I’m looking for, say, Patricia Briggs, I’d be lucky to find one of her books–maybe the newest one but not the whole series. And the prices would be about 50 percent higher than the normal online price. I also love the IDEA of buying in bookstores, though. I don’t go out of my way to find one, but if I do, I’ll always end up buying something. When I went to England a few years ago, I went to Waterstone and ended up buying the whole UK set of Harry Potter books…which I then had to lug all over London. Bad timing, that. I also have a beautiful version of Heidi in German that I bought at a little store in Zurich a while back. So apparently bookstores make great places to buy souvenirs!

  22. Like aurian, i bought most of my new books from BD. Though i takes way too much time on delivery, but the free shipping is the biggest lure. Sometime i bought from one from my local imported book store, when they have sale going 😉

    • It’s hard to pass up the free shipping, isn’t it? All that money for postage could go for books. I think this blog is singlehandedly keeping the US Postal Service in business–LOL.

  23. I’m also in financial circumstances that make paying the full retail price at a store neigh impossible. Also, I take advantage of some websites that earn me Amazon credit, so that makes them my number one stop. (I’ve also used the credit for a water pump for my car, and even for food!) This does bring something up that I’ve long wondered. If Amazon sells books at a huge discount, does this affect an authors royalties? Much as I hate to see the demise of local bookstores, I’ve always felt guilty that an author may not get what they should for the books I buy.

    • Ah, that’s where the difference between being an author and a reader is most pronounced. As a reader, I want those discounted prices. As an author, it does impact me.

      Basically, to use Royal Street as an example, I make $1.19 for every copy that’s sold at full retail price of $14.95 in a bookstore. I make 80 cents on each copy sold on Amazon or for about $10. (That’s for a print copy; for a Kindle or Nook, I make about $2 per copy.) Kind of pathetic, right? So if I get an advance from the publisher, I don’t start making any more money on a book until, at the rate of 80 cents per book, I’ve “repaid” the publisher for the advance. Most authors never earn beyond their advance…and now you know why most authors have day jobs unless they’re stay-at-home moms or dads whose spouses work outside the home.

  24. I live fairly close to a B&N, but I mostly shop for DVDs there. My favorite local bookstore is Powell’s, and I can always count on them to have whatever obscure book I’m looking for – but their prices are so high that I would often order books from Amazon instead. However, there have been rumors around town that Powell’s is in trouble, so I did a huge chunk of my holiday shopping there and will continue to give them my business more often (so long as my finances allow it).

    I don’t own a Kindle, so I can’t speak to that particular temptation, but I’m pretty sure that I would be downloading books like crazy if I did. Some of the ladies in my book club have gone so far as to say that they will not read a book if it’s not available on Kindle – and although we vetoed that idea, I am definitely concerned for the future of all booksellers. 🙁

    • I hadn’t heard anything about Powells’, but they’re so must cost a fortune to maintain that inventory. Before a friend gave me a Kindle for Christmas a couple of years ago, I thought I didn’t want one. It has surprised me how quickly I’ve come to love reading on it. I’m pathetically nearsighted (thus the dorky glasses), so the backlit screen and the ability to adjust type size is really great. I find I read a lot faster on it. I don’t think I’ll ever give up print books but I do tend to read more on the Kindle.

  25. I rarely buy books in print because I don’t have the room to keep them. I love my Kindle and buy books for it. I also get books at the library. We have a books a million in town and I love to go browse the magazines and books but I seldom buy there. I write down the interesting titles and look them up online when I get home.

    • I think that’s what a lot of folks are doing, Bonnie. Browse in the store, then shop online. It presents a real dilemma for bookstores, but they can’t compete price-wise. So I’m not sure what the solution is for them. Like you, I’m buying fewer and fewer print books and more digital books.

  26. I buy most of my books online now. It’s Hobson’s choice really. Where I live the bookstores are quite pathetic with very limited choice. I love that online bookstores have backlisted books easily available. I’m also leaning towards buying more ebooks too.

    • That’s the greatest thing about online stores. It doesn’t matter where you live, and there’s not an issue of how much inventory you can afford to keep on hand as in a physical store.

  27. I used to buy the majority in Borders. Now that its closed I buy mostly from Amazon. I do read both digital and print, but I still prefer print.

    • I read a report from the Digital Book World conference today about this very thing. It was thought that when Borders closed, their customers would go to a different physical store. But the majority turned online instead. Again, price, convenience, selection–all hard to beat.

  28. I buy most of my books on Amazon, some on B&, and occasionally when I’m in Target I’ll check out the books and pick up something I’m sure I don’t already have. That’s one reason I try not to impulse buy, I forget what I have and end up bringing home a book I already have. Online, I have wish lists and I keep them up so I know it’s safe to order from them. I also visit a couple of used books stores on rare occasions, but have to bring a list with me. 😀

    • LOL, you sound like me, Barbara. When I was making my “Book Horde” list and going through my TBR shelves, I kept coming across books I swear I had no idea were there. 🙂

  29. I love browsing in bookstores, and I seriously hope there won’t come a time when they all go bankrupt. I used to love Borders- so much books! But I rarely bought books there, since they were always so expensive. I prefer physical books and buy them in an actual bookstore, if I can help it.

    • The browsing experience is something I miss. The online sites are really good at making suggestions based on what you’ve looked at, but it’s not the same as the smell of paper and ink in a bookstore (and coffee!).

  30. I don’t usually buy anything from B&N. We have an amazing indie bookstore in town that I prefer to patronize. I only go to B&N to browse their bargain books section. I would say my book purchases are split fairly evenly between buying at my indie store and on

    • You’re lucky to have access to some good indie stores! I really think in the long run the indies could outlast the big-box stores because they can respond more quickly to their customers’ needs, and can provide that personal experience. Their big disadvantages are in cost and selection unless they specialize. I still wish I was within driving distance of Mysterious Galaxy!

  31. Hi Suzanne, love your new Shop-Talk posts. I’m probably still half and half. Baltimore’s largest independent bookstore is the closest bookstore to me. I was there many times during the holiday season. And whenever I go somewhere new I always look for a local bookshop. For me, it’s an experience. It’s not just about running in for one book. It’s about checking out all the new releases and all the books on the genre shelves I’m into. But I can’t deny I love the convenience of buying online.

    • Hi Jill–thanks! I think the holidays is one time I probably am most likely to go to a brick and mortar store because I like “bookish” gifts. I also tend to look for bookstores when I travel, especially the small independent stores, because they all have their own unique ambience.

  32. I order most of my books from Book Depository because of a) the availability and b) it’s cheaper. I live in a small-ish city. We have a about 4/5 bigger (but still very small compared to large towns) bookstores and a handful of small ones that sell school/religion books. The bigger bookstores are almost ALWAYS very slow to get the latest titles unless it’s really popular or big names like J.K Rowling, Stephen King, etc. Sometimes certain books never get sold here or not the edition I want. Take The Diviners by Libba Bray for example. The edition sold here is the international paperback and it’s the same price as the hardcover on BookDepo!

    So I might as well order online because that way I KNOW I will get the book I want within a reasonable amount of time. And I totally agree about the midnight impulse buy! But I do love browsing bookstores. If only they had a wider selection and the prices were lower, I would. :/

  33. I live in Canada, so it’s a bit different. We do have a huge chain of bookstores (Chapters). And I love to go in there. But the prices are higher than at the book depository. A new release might be $20 when the same book would be $12 at TBD.

    Then there is, which does ship to Canada. But they charge too much for shipping ($9 for 1 book, $13 for two). I find that too much. has the books, but higher price and i think you have to spend $39 for free shipping. Plus all my giftcards are with So much to consider!

    And re: ebooks. Love for inexpensive book and enovellas. But some kindle books for new releases might be $11 and for the same price you can get the physical book from the book depo.

    Jennifer k

    jlkalman26 at gmail dot com

  34. I love both brick and mortar and online bookstores! Brick and mortar because I love that new book smell nothing beats that! I love online bookstores because of how easily accessible books are, I can get books in a matter of seconds, don’t have to worry about getting dressed or about driving to the bookstore all I need to do is turn on my laptop or Kindle and I’m good to go.

    As much as I love both I’ve noticed since I’ve gotten my Kindle I tend to buy more ebooks than print books.

  35. I live in Italy and, since I read mostly in English, I do buy tons of books online (thank you, TBD, for your free shipping policy). But even when I buy Italian books I dot it through amazon, since books in here are so. much. expensive that I cannot afford to buy them full price.

    I have a kindle and yes, I buy ebooks, too, but I somehow prefer the physical copy. I bought my Kindle for travels (and Netgalley) and when I can, I do prefer to have a heavy book in my hands