The Endangered Bookstores of New York

from The New Yorker

Recently, I was browsing for books at Powerhouse Arena, in Dumbo, and noticed a sign asking people not to snap photos of the books on display. What a thing to have to ask! Here was a bookstore providing shelter, a bit of calm in the city, and tables with chosen, colorful, physical copies of books. And yet people were willing to bypass the ambiance and the expertise with an iPhone snap and an online purchase to be made later. To be in a bookstore is to feel the presence of artistic lives, a devotion to word and image. Bob Eckstein has previously drawn the bookstores of the city, and he returns here with a new set of drawings and stories. Some of these stores are thriving, some are shuttering, and some are just happy memories. — Michael Agger

More here.

17 Responses to The Endangered Bookstores of New York

  1. Preet M. February 26, 2015 at 1:48 pm #

    Although it is a sign of the times in which we live, it is incredibly sad to hear of the decline of bookstores throughout NYC and the world. As someone who gets a lot of her work done in bookstores both big and small, I can’t imagine a world where the only way to access literature would be to purchase it online or read it on a tablet. The Pew Internet Research Center found that readers of traditional books dropped from 72 percent to 67 percent in 2013. ( Judging from the growing popularity of products such as the Kindle and the Nook, it can be assumed that these numbers will only continue to decline.
    Eckstein made a great point of illustrating the significance of bookstores and what they mean to the communities around them. Unfortunately, the convenience of online purchasing is taking over and pulling people away from the ambiance that a corner bookstore may provide. Even through the emergence (and now decline) of stores like Barnes and Noble, these little stores maintained their dignity due to the loyal following of avid readers who appreciate the entire experience of devouring literature from beginning to end. But there is a new reality in the world of books and the regard for traditional books and bookstores will continue to dwindle as the access to material online becomes more popular.

  2. Cameron Quisenberry February 26, 2015 at 2:40 pm #

    I come from a town where the only thing you can do on a Friday night is go out to eat and see a movie. Other than that, there really is not much else to do… unless you are creative enough to find another activity to do. This article reminded me of a bookstore – Books-A-Million – I occasionally attend when I cannot come up with anything else to do. As I was reading this article, I got upset that we have had to result to the potential demise of bookstores. I always remember, as a kid, getting a new book and opening it for the first time. I loved the smell of a brand new book. I would lock myself away for hours just to read the Harry Potter series or the Series of Unfortunate Events series. Once my mom bought a Kindle and purchased her first e-book, I was weirded out by the fact that she could access a book on an electronic device. Personally, I love sitting down and reading an actual book instead of staring at a screen with the same purpose.

    Since the introduction of e-books and tablets, reading physical books will never be the same. Human beings are hungry for convenience and aspire to live the most convenient lives possible. However, there are still those avid readers, like myself and my sister, who love to buy and read legitimate books to delve into the literature and the experience of reading. I have nothing against electronic reading, as I know it will be a major influence in years to come. I will not succumb to the pressures of the convenient online tablet reading because I enjoy reading from a physical book too much. I think reading a physical book is more beneficial than reading an e-book. We, as a society, are constantly checking emails, searching the web, and texting and calling friends and family. On an average day, I would say I stare at a computer screen or my phone screen for easily 6 hours. Sometimes, reading a physical book is a nice way to get away from all the screen watching I do every day. I do not think paper books will be completely disregarded, but I do think there will be a significant drop in the number of traditional book readers in the coming years.

  3. Daniel Hernandez March 6, 2015 at 6:38 pm #

    As I’ve discussed in previous blog posts, I used to be quite the avid reader. This article caught my eyes in more ways than one as I was raised in New York and I am very familiar with a number of the book stores featured in this article. It is unfortunate to see bookstores struggling to produce enough profits to keep their doors open; due in large part to the dominance of ebooks. I, for one, am a fan of the physical paperback or hardcover versions of books. There is something indescribable in the feeling you get when you flip the pages of a book. While I do read articles online, my preferred method of reading books is physical because I can see what my progress is. Although there is a progress bar on ebook readers, nothing can compare to flipping the last page and shutting the book as you have completed a novel.

    “The Endangered Bookstores of New York”, an article published on The New Yorker’s website, features numerous drawings of beloved independent bookstores that are struggling to stay open. Before getting to the photos, I had a moment to laugh when I read that the bookstore Powerhouse Arena had a sign asking for people to avoid snapping pictures of the books displayed in their store. Most people are accustomed to purchasing books digitally, while still using these bookstores as a method of previewing a book, or even learning of its existence.

    The third photo on display was of the book store Forbidden Planet. This store actually happens to be a comic book store that I used to swing by on new comic book day on Wednesdays, if I happened to be in the area. Unfortunately, the location displayed (on the corner of 13th st. and Broadway) has shut down and Forbidden Planet has since relocated to a smaller store. When I was much younger, I also enjoyed visiting the bookstore on St. Marks. There are a number of other shops that are not featured such as Strand. Visiting Strand and seeing old classics for $1 was an enjoyable experience for me. There were a number of times when I discovered books that I had not known even existed.

    I absolutely loved seeing the eight paintings with quotes and descriptions of vivid memories that would not exist in a technological world. There are no experiences such as meeting Robin Williams looking at poetry and hearing his love for bookstores. These experiences are occurring less and less, and there will come a time when these experiences will cease to exist. And, that, is unfortunate.

  4. Courtney Achille March 6, 2015 at 8:45 pm #

    Society has become purely digital and many of the old forms of consumerism are becoming obsolete due to the technology age that has been quickly irrupting since the late 90’s. When I was younger, the bookstore was one of my favorite places and still is; it is a more exciting library where the world around you seems so alive. A bookstore has character and I have always found as a place of comfort and entertainment. I sometimes walk through a bookstore for hours, looking through all the covers and sections in order to find the best books I can find. Unfortunately, like everyone else, the technology age has hit me and I tend to get most of my books through my Kindle instead of owning physical books. I used to be against eBooks but then I learned of the convenience of them and now my experiences of looking for books are no longer the same. Once in a while, I go to a Barnes N Nobles and get a paper book but recently, it is easier and more convenient to just download them through my tablet. The internet is taking over everything and soon enough businesses, like bookstores, may be something you read about in History eBooks.

    Bookstores, especially, in the city have such character to them and people who walk in get a vibe from the store itself. Some stores are dedicated to specific types of writing, for example, there is a store that only holds biographies or things written by Winston Churchill. All the writing in that store is about a single man and it really gives a person a unique experience when they enter that store. People are losing the personal experiences because of companies like Amazon and Google that are the biggest contributors to the eBooks’ popularity. The bookstore is an inspirational place for all individuals but people are going to lose them because of the tech bubble that we are all stuck in.

  5. Michael Girgis March 7, 2015 at 8:56 am #

    I miss just walking down a street in The big apple and finding these interesting little stores. and as the years have gone by I’ve found that these store have changed from being about 80% bookstores to about 10 % bookstores. i defiantly didn’t think about it till i just read this. how ever i dont mind it because thats just where this generation is going. there is nothing you can change about it. i just wish that cultured book stores dont go entirely. that would be a great travesty.

  6. Rhiannon K. June 17, 2015 at 9:25 pm #

    I really enjoyed reading this article. The way it was written was ingenious because the author made it look like a storybook. It emphasized the importance of bookstores and made you stop and realize what you would be missing if bookstores become extinct. There is something so comforting and personal about bookstores. They are such a great find, especially in a big city like New York. I do go into the city a lot and bookstores are a little break from the noise and chaos. It is a shame that technology is ruining the calming atmosphere of bookstores everywhere.

    This article proved that bookstores are able to bring people from all walks of life together. It shows that bookstores are for anyone to enjoy. I love how the bookstores in this post made famous celebrities seem approachable. My favorite encounter was the one with Clive Barker and the “punk kid.” I have seen “Hellraiser” and it is a very obscure horror movie. Even though it was very strange and extreme of the kid to ask Barker for an autograph with blood, I thought it was funny that he actually agreed. It’s even more amazing that they remained friends over the years. Without the bookstore signing, these two people probably would have never met. I also loved the Madonna story at St. Mark’s Book Shop. The employee did not even recognize her at first and they had a book with her picture on display. When the man at the register told her about it she was really interested to see it. It makes Madonna seem like a real woman and not just a famous pop star. All of these bookstores have such interesting stories to tell, just like the books that they all contain. If bookstores cease to exist, so will these amazing encounters and soothing escape from city life.

  7. Selena Fernandez June 19, 2015 at 9:19 am #

    As an avid reader this article both warms and breaks my heart. Bookstores are becoming close to nonexistent (save for the amazing Barnes n Nobles) and the markets are only interested in the newest and more convenient form of technology rather than the printed words on a collection of pages.
    The fast-paced lifestyle does not have time anymore to turn the pages of a book; instead we swipe right to flip the pages and have a library of books at the push of a button. And I can understand why because nothing can beat convenience.
    Technology has increased production of gadgets that allow readers to enjoy the convenience of reading anywhere at anytime. The new iBooks app from Apple allows you to not only purchase books, but download and read PDF files of books to create your own personal library. Not only this, but the Barnes n Nobles Nook and various versions of the Amazon Kindle have also helped get the movement of technological reading going. This convenience increases profit, business, and makes for happy customers.
    But it is sad as well. This article was beautifully written, not just in words but images, a form of art just like a paperback book. Reading the article made me feel a little nostalgic, because I too am guilty of using my gadgets to read more than picking up an actual book. But as generations and markets change, it’s a wonder what will happen to the millions of paperback books that no one wants to take the time to read. Will all that knowledge go to waste?
    Hopefully even with the forever changing markets, books will remain available for those who wish to preserve them.

  8. Brendan J. Kane January 26, 2016 at 11:17 pm #

    As do all things, New York City has changed over the years, but it sadly seems for the worse. Some may see it as a commercialized playground today, while others like myself think that it is just how the city is. I grew up thinking that New York City was filled with big businesses everywhere you turn because of the huge billboards and signs, but after speaking with my father I was able to get an idea of how much things have changed. New York City did have a presence of big businesses, but nothing compared to today. In the news and media, I’ve noticed the most publicized aspect of this change has been about bookstores, which to me honestly seems a bit odd, is bookstores of all things or places. However, upon thinking about it, bookstores are such a quiet environment where people could escape their busy lives, especially in New York City, and go get lost in another world because of a book.
    Although there are several other hole-in-the-wall places in New York City that a person could use to escape the busy city streets, bookstores have a uniqueness to them. This is probably due to the capability of a good book. With a good book, a person can get lost into a brand new world for them to explore and forget about the ongoing world around them. Sadly, this is becoming a vision of the past with the fewer bookstores open and the convenience of buying online. As stated in the article, people are taking their iPhones out and shopping online for a better deal while still in the store. This is understandable because everyone wants to save some money whenever they can, but by buying the book at that bookstore the person could help an independent store survive. Furthermore, the customers are having an experience like no other because of the environment that is provided can be found nowhere else. For instance, some of those experiences mentioned in the article could not happen in any other place because other places are not fueled by an international thing. A book is so powerful because it can be enjoyed by people from all over the globe, unlike other forms of media. Reading is a staple in the world, if a person received an education or is somewhat successful. More people need to live in the moment and have an appreciation for this miniscule but unique aspects.
    These bookstores are a retreat away from the outside world, and anything can serve as a retreat to a person as long as they enjoy it. For instance, a class could be a retreat if the student enjoys learning about the subject matter. A retreat can be so useful because they allow a person to escape reality but they also ignite the person to learn more and greater develop his or her knowledge. A good class and professor can do wonders to a person, similar to how a good book can affect someone’s mentality.
    By losing bookstores, the opportunity of having these experiences grows smaller. The commercialization of the city is not only affecting smaller businesses but those who want an escape from a busy lifestyle. An escape can inspire someone to become more productive and that productivity can carry over into other ventures. Therefore, why would we want to lose them? Replacing a small business diminishes the customer experience because it will never have the same environment of the hole-in-the-wall bookstore. Furthermore, commercialization takes away from the character of the overall city. The smaller aspects of give the bigger picture a distinct edge, but if those smaller aspects become more generic then that overall picture will suffer and not be as genuine.

  9. Cailee Valente January 27, 2016 at 11:20 pm #

    This article caught my attention because of my love for New York. Not only do I love the city and visit once or twice every weekend, but I also love bookstores and I even like to write as well. Bookstores and libraries are one of my favorite places to be because the realization that I am surrounded by beautiful poetry and writings from the most influential writers and thinkers is an incredible feeling. New York has so much history and diversity on every street corner including in bookstores. Anyone can write a book and everyone has a unique perspective to offer to the world. We can learn something new from each one of these people and their books which are available at a bookstore. I am a victim however of the mentioned going into a bookstore, taking a picture for social media and then leaving to buy the book online or in my case, downloading a free PDF file. I prefer the feeling of holding a physical book in my hands but my budget is small as a college student so I am more than happy to accept a PDF file of a great book emailed to me by a friend.
    When I was in high school, my physics professor was talking about how reading books can make you much more intelligent. Not only do you become familiar with books, but you also expand your vocabulary, and expand your brain and the way you think. One girl in my class read constantly and had a new book with her almost every week if not every day and I knew that she did amazingly well on the English portions of her SATs. Even though I know that my intelligence cannot be entirely proved on a test like this, I knew that if I had been as much as an avid reader as the girl in my class I would have done better on mine. My English classes in high school were so bad and never taught us the famous classic books that many of my college friends learned in their high schools. I feel that I have missed out on a lot of learning so in order to make up for it, I tremendously appreciate reading and learning in general.
    Since the world is moving more toward technology, it is evident that any type of physical written work is becoming less popular. People would rather read an article online rather than in a newspaper or read a book on a kindle or online rather than the physical book. This is just a result of society becoming more technologically advanced which would not be a bad thing if people actually continued to read. No matter what way you read, you are still absorbing knowledge from a book. However this does not always happen. Now with the extensive presence that social media has in our everyday lives, my generation is more inclined to read their twitter feed rather than a classical book. This is a preference and a decision, but also is due to technology. I do feel that books have much to offer including hidden vital pieces of information and that those who consistently read will be at an advantage over their non-reading peers. This world is very competitive in the job force and expanding your knowledge through reading is one way to set yourself apart from your competition. Whether a book is online or physically in front of me, I will always be a reader and aim to write my own book one day.

  10. Eric Foley January 28, 2016 at 2:00 pm #

    As a history major nothing is more important to me then the physical copy of a book. Whether it’s the memoir of Hitler or the early histories of the Roman Empire by Livy, a book brings joy to me. A book gives the impression of a time machine which can take you back to any point in history and put you right in the middle of it, whether it is a reprint or original. One of the major reasons I became a history major was due to the focus on information found in books rather than basing everything online or on a computer document. Many discourses today, especially in college, tend to focus on the latter rather than the former.
    Outside of college and other schooling, a majority of citizens fail to realize how important reading a book can be and tend to stay away from such a straining activity. As a result, books and bookstores are beginning to die out across the United States. Yet I believe this to be a blessing in disguise based on the fact that books need to reach younger audiences through means of technology rather than solely focusing on the print versions. Young children are exposed to technology earlier and earlier than before, by creating online versions of even children books, the industry is conforming yet fitting the mode of the 21st century. Bookstores could open up online stores similar to the way Amazon Kindle does business and offer the same books they would offer in the store without having the costs associated with running an actual bookstore. As sad as it is to see many bookstores fade away with the changes of the time, I believe it’s completely necessary for the rest of the industry.
    I recently went to NYC about a month ago, when I came across two bookstores near Rockefeller Square. I went inside the one store to find that many of the customers had focused on the Amazon Fires they had set up with books on them. Other customers were focused on the picture books of cars, computers, and other random things. When I enter a bookstore the first section I look for is the history section, which is usually towards the back and away from all the fancy fiction books about fairies and vampires. In the first store, the history section was two shelves! Filled with the usual books about World War two and Hitler, without any other topics of particular importance. This filled me with anger as I walked out immediately. The next store was bigger and appeared to have more topics of interest and therefore more sections. When I reached the history section, I was still not surprised when all I saw was books about World War Two once again. I gave up at that point and realized that maybe history was dying out, in terms of physical print. Then I realized that it wasn’t history that was selling, but it was the bookstore that wasn’t selling to the people. History books are some of the most profitable books on Amazon and they remain popular for readers across all boards. Yet these bookstores failed to offer any sort of variety, which is lacking among any bookstore in the city apparently. This example highlights why it is important for bookstores to conform to the 21st century, offering more for its customers will create better business and reach younger generations online. If bookstores across the city continue to solely focus on the model of selling overpriced singularly focused books, they will keep fading out until they are completely gone.

  11. Samantha Voltmer February 12, 2016 at 9:02 pm #

    When I was younger I suffered from mild to severe anxiety, which lead to many sleepless nights for myself. I tried many remedies and nothing helped, until I was in seventh grade and my English teacher at the time completely changed my life. She was holding a book club once a week that met during a free period and counted as an elective credit at my school. At first I was very hesitant to join, because honestly as a seventh grader I thought that was the lamest thing on earth. But, I joined anyway and I am so glad that I did. Not only did I cultivate a true love for reading, but books became a way for me to channel my anxiety and truly escape my own mind. Naturally, after a learned to love reading, I quickly fell in love with all things books. I love bookstores, I love being completely surrounded by pages new and old that tell of thousands of stories from real world events and people to galaxies far away. Reading a book is only one part of the experience, picking that book out in a slightly dusty bookstore that smells like coffee and filled with the sounds of turning pages and creaky floors is what really completes a reader’s experience.

    It truly breaks my heart when I hear and see of bookstores closing, especially family run ones. There is so much history behind a bookstore, so many conversations that have happened, memories made, and full of new beginnings. And this article on “The Endangered Bookstores of New York” by Bob Eckstein highlights the importance of keeping the tradition of bookstores alive. This article is filled with stories and memories of bookstores that are either currently open in New York, or simply keeping their memories alive by writing about them.

    This article does a great job of showing that bookstores cater not only to the stuffy oldman that many envision but to many more, including celebrities. From Robin Williams to Madonna, many have helped to keep bookstores alive by making purchases in person, rather than online. This article also notes that many bookstores are having to post signs that say “No Pictures”, because many people will take a picture of a book they like, then purchasing it online for a “cheaper” price. Many people simply care about the quickest and cheapest way of doing things, but we must look at the bigger picture: worth saving an extra four dollars at the risk of bookstores closing? I must admit that I have been a culprit of this same crime, until I realized that if I really wanted there to still be bookstores near me I must practice what I preach. Now it pains me to see my cousin taking pictures of books she wants to read at Barnes and Nobles, only to buy them off of Amazon or get them from her library. Honestly, books are not that expensive, compared to the raising prices of coffee at a certain retailor, therefore my word of advice is to skip a trip to a coffee story and take a trip to a bookstore instead.

  12. Michael W. Alescio March 8, 2016 at 9:24 pm #

    The article by Bob Eckstein really touched home for me. As a kid growing up I can remember the days running into books stores with my newest Barnes and Noble gift card. Still at age 19 I ask for gift cards to book stores. But it is true, the difference from then and now is the quantity of people in the book stores. I cannot even think about the number of times I have seen people walk into a book store take a picture, and proceed to leave the store. This is not the consumers fault, it makes sense, why buy a book at the bookstore when you can get it on Amazon Prime for often times much cheaper.
    I play for Seton Hall Baseball, and recently we went down to Miami, Florida to play in the warm weather. I thought one of the coolest parts about our average Best Western hotel at best, was how there was a bookstore right next to the hotel. I went to the bookstore four times in four days. Twice, I was in the store for over 30 min. The best part was the fact that I only bought a book one time. I ended up buying the book Tipping Point by Malcom Gladwell for anyone wondering. I have heard great things. But I did not just go in the book store did get a book my point is, or to take a picture of a book to buy later. I enjoy going into these book stores for some of the reasons Bob Eckstein touches on. A bookstore stirs the creative mind. To me, just being in a bookstore makes me feel more intelligent. I first start by walking around the bookstore looking at all the books on shelves and tables. They always put the latest and greatest books right when you walk in. It is a good starting point but I normally will not look at that many books on the center table. After I walk past the featured books, I go into the different genres, biography, sports, physiology and fiction. I will spend time in each reading the summaries of books in the genre. Recently I really have enjoyed reading books in psychology and about mental toughness. This is where Malcom Gladwell comes into play. But the whole process of buying a book can be just as fun as reading the book its’ self. Another note, often times I can get a nice warm cup of Starbucks coffee to go along my adventure through the bookstore.
    Kids today are growing up not experiencing this anymore. Instead their parents are just ordering books online for them. I miss the days as a kid when I was walking around in the book store. It is the same experience you get when you actually attend a sporting event. Instead of just watching it on T.V. It is similar, to get the real experience of buying a book. I can assure you anyone in a bookstore is not in a hurry, or stressed. They are enjoying the time they have in the store as they sit at various chairs reading the hundreds of different books they could buy. But the best part is, you never actually have to buy the book. After leaving this comment, I think I want to go to a bookstore.

  13. Alyson Tom April 8, 2016 at 7:42 pm #

    Bookstores in New York City are now a rarity to find. Small private owned bookstores were once threatened by big companies such as Borders and Barnes & Nobles. Now all bookstores are competing against online competitors like Amazon. These online companies are pushing bookstores out of business for their convenience and cheaper prices.

    Currently, all bookstores are barely surviving in the market when they are competing against big competitors. Barnes & Nobles and Borders once dominated the market but slowly that changed. In 2011, Borders liquidated their assets and closed all of their remaining stores. Personally, I remember that I was extremely shocked when I found out that they closed. After some research, I found out that Borders decided to invest into CD and DVD sales during the time where everything was starting to go digital. While Barnes & Nobles was withdrawing from this market. Barnes & Nobles adapted more towards the change in times as they put in more work towards their online sales and they even invented their electric reader called the Nook. While Barnes & Nobles choose to cater towards the changing times, unfortunately Borders did not and they were forced to close down as a result.

    Unfortunately currently, Barnes & Nobles are not doing so well. I was already aware that two Barnes & Noble stores were closing around my area however I did not know that all of their stores were now closed in Queens, New York. From here, only more stores will close. Online companies are having more success selling books than actual bookstores. Companies like Amazon offer even more book titles then Barnes & Nobles would ever offer at one storefront. Since Amazon is not limited to a single storefront they have the ability to offer thousands of different books because they have unlimited storage. In addition, Amazon offers convenience. Some people can be extremely busy and might not have the time in their day to go to a bookstore. Amazon can have orders arrive the next day. Also, amazon does offer cheaper options. The prices vary as they offer editions in both a paperback, hardcover, and a digital download. If people are looking for a cheaper option then they can also choose to temporarily rent a book. From my experience of buying textbooks, Amazon also allows the user to rent or buy used books from other sources through their site.

    Although online companies offer costumers many benefits they cannot offer the same atmosphere and quaintness of a bookstore. By going to bookstores to just take pictures of book covers to later on purchase them online is hurting businesses across America. The article describes book stores as, “To be in a bookstore is to feel the presence of artistic lives, a devotion to word and image.” The action of just using it to find out what books are good is taking the experience away from a bookstore. In a bookstore the customer gets to explore new genres, physically hold the book, and flip through the endless pages. No matter what Amazon can offer, they cannot provide that.

  14. Caroline Massa March 18, 2017 at 5:04 pm #

    I really enjoyed reading the quotes and looking at the pictures of various bookstores drawn by Bob Eckstein. He captures the essence of bookstores that house precious works of art and words that bring joy to people’s lives. Like many, I love a small, quaint bookstore like those depicted in the article,”The Endangered Bookstores of New York”. Sadly, these bookstores are experiencing the same problems that many other brick and mortar stores are encountering. Competition from internet companies is creating a real struggle for survival for these traditional brick and mortar stores. They cannot compete with the lower prices offered by internet companies or the convenience of shopping at home. Internet sales have increased substantially over the last five years forcing many brick and mortar stores out of business.

    Book stores face an additional challenge with the technology that has brought us electronic reading devices. These devices include cell phones, iPads, electronic readers and computers. The ease of buying a book, better known as an e-book, is very enticing to many people. Again there is the convenience as well as the price that adds to the appeal. Younger people in particular are very comfortable with reading screens, but even older people have come to appreciate this style of reading. Sadly, this comes at the expense of not only the smaller bookstores but even the larger ones like Barnes & Noble. Many have been forced to close their doors after years of being in business.

    There still is a contingency of people who enjoy going to bookstores and browsing. While my local bookstore is not as beautiful as most illustrated by Eckstein, I am hopeful that there is enough demand to keep it in business for years to come. I enjoy stopping in when I am in town and looking at the new bestsellers as well as my old favorites. However, I am usually the only customer in the store when I do go in and the selections are pretty low. More often then not my local town bookstore will not have my book in stock so it must be ordered, which takes at least three days. The bookstores that are depicted in the article have so much charm and if I lived close to one of them I would be a frequent customer. Unfortunately, this also presents a problem for bookstores because they have people who enjoy the store and books, but who do not actually purchase them. While I love the idea of bookstores, the problem is that I actually prefer reading on an electronic device. I think most people in my generation do because they have grown up with reading text on a computer and phone. So while I want to support bookstores I often give in to my preference of reading books electronically. This is the challenge that many stores in general are facing and some are even making changes that they hope will give them a lifeline. Matching prices on the internet and other offers might buy them some time but in the long it might still prove to be too costly to stay in business.
    I imagine that many people feel as I do, that we enjoy what traditional stores have to offer us but it is hard to resist the convenience of technology. I realize that this ideal is not realistic though and unfortunately that this may ultimately lead to a time where there is no longer brick and mortar stores. I hope this does not happen, but at least Eckstein has created a beautiful array of illustrations that will remind people of the wonderful old bookstores that were such a part of New York’s history.

  15. Rebecca Roome March 20, 2017 at 4:46 pm #

    The development of technology has killed the production of books as time moves forward. Before technology, many people read books for enjoyment. Reading a physical book holds a lot of importance in a child’s educational development. When a person starts reading at a young age, they build a more advanced reading level and the ability to read a lot faster. Typically, a person who reads a lot builds a better level of analysis and vocabulary. When I was in first grade up until fourth grade, my school stressed the importance of reading in the library. My school also held many book fairs that gave students the opportunities to buy their own books to have. Going to the book fairs were always so exciting because everyone was given the opportunities to get new books to read in the library. My sister who is four years younger than I am went through the same schools I did. When I asked her if they still had book fairs she told me they did but no one ever bought the books. Stores such as Barnes and Nobles have begun to close because of the lack of foot traffic they see. If people do go into them, it is typically to get their coffee from the connected Starbucks. Books are being replaced with things like Kindles, iPads, and computers so no one feels the need to buy the physical books anymore. I know that when I need instant access to a book the last thing I want to do is drive all the way to a store. Websites often have full version of books on PDFs, giving the reader the full book without having to go to a store and buy it. Although, technology companies may be benefitting from these replacements, printing companies will take a huge hit. As the demand for a written book lessens, printing companies will not have to make as many copies. Reading from screens instead of books can also put a significant strain on a person’s eyes. It seemed ironic to me that I started having trouble with my vision around the same time I starting using technology. After going to the eye doctor, I was told the reason I needed glasses was because of how many hours I have to spent staring a computer screen, phone screen, TV, or smartboard.
    This article speaks specifically of the decline in bookstores in New York. New York, specifically New York City, is known for its bright lights and fast pace life. Many small family own businesses that do not fit this technological advanced city are washed out and people almost forget they are there. As a fast pace lifestyle continues to grow in the city and all over the world, people do not feel they have enough time to stop in a bookstore and spend a few hours browsing. Bookstores create a calm space and escape from reality during the time a person spends there. It is sad to see so many bookstores go out of business because it truly says something about the society we now live in. People are too busy to take some time and expand their creativity or explore different genres of information.

  16. Andrew Imbesi March 22, 2017 at 1:32 pm #

    Humans have been reading and writing physical documents for thousands of years and this system has never changed. It was not until recently when humans started moving towards a digital world and mastered it. Engraving symbols and wasting ink are trends of the past; the future of humanity is paperless and technological. Books are great, I am not saying there is anything wrong with them, but it is time that we take them off the shelves.
    Amazon completely disrupted the book market, not just the online company, but the rainforest as well. We often forget as humans, in order to make our lives better, we have to make life for others worse. Deforestation displaces thousands of animals and kills plenty of resources. Humans are starting to cut too many trees, and Earth is beginning to look like something that it is not. Do we really need trees for paper anymore?
    I have one class that requires me to print out twenty plus pages each week… it is terrible. Of course, it is the religion department, the furthest department away from accepting science and technology as truth. I am not saying this methodology of teaching is hurtful or wrong, but it would be much easier for me to bring my laptop to class rather than waste paper and ink. I have nothing against the religion department for not utilizing our school’s technology to its fullest potential, but it would be considerate for them to be open to the idea of a paperless classroom.
    Back to Amazon, when Jeff Bezos said he would sell books online people laughed. Now, Bezos is on his way of becoming the wealthiest man in the world, and he will be. The idea of a Kindle is brilliant, now all anyone needs is one device to read hundreds and thousands of books on.
    It does not surprise me that bookstores are going under in New York City. The cost of operating a business in the city is not cheap. Given millions of people walk down the streets of New York City every day, businesses get a lot of consumer attention when located here. However, not everyone is walking into a bookstore anymore. Everything is online for consumers now.
    Moreover, why ship books to the store when people can buy the eBook online? Millions of resources are being shipped throughout the Big Apple every day, is it possible that overtime these shipping trucks will not have any more room for books?
    Humans are entering a different reality; there is no more room for a Barnes and Noble in a retail area. Retail businesses have been on the decline ever since technology has found more ways to take over the livelihoods of humans. I remember when I learned cursive in elementary school; my youngest brother barely knows half the cursive letters. With a technological shift towards reading and writing, learning how to type, we will be picking up our pens less and less overtime. Although we are abandoning human traditions, we must not forget regular human values.

  17. Amber Esposito November 11, 2017 at 11:49 am #

    It is unfortunate that that the book industry is experiencing strong blowbacks from the advancement of technology. Not only are bookstores becoming obsolete, but handheld books are too. Growing up in New York City, I have seen the social, educational, and cultural changes regarding reading. When I was younger taking the ferry to Manhattan, almost everyone was either reading a book or the newspaper. Now almost everyone is either reading a kindle or on their phone. Less people are going to library’s and taking out books. Most of my friends order their books (textbooks) from amazon, chegg, or other online retailers, and almost none of them read during their spare time. I however still enjoy reading physical books during my freetime and when I travel.

    Even I am guilty of taking a picture of a book in store to I can go home and try to find it at a less expensive rate somewhere else (may it be from a different bookstore or from an online retailer). But why are less people going to their local library? I think it is because we have become used to the luxury of buying things online and having them shipped directly to us. I enjoy going to the library; I enjoy the experience. However, when I read a book I like to keep it and add it to my book case- and eventually donate them. As time goes on, we are becoming more and more accustomed to impersonal shopping experiences. Yes, companies like amazon have great customer service, but what about the face to face interaction? More people are becoming used to (and even enjoy) not having to talk to someone to find and get what they want- which is one of the reasons why I believe people prefer to not (and avoid) go to bookstores and libraries. Thankfully, there will always be those people who take pleasure in the experience of going and getting a physical book.

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