Small bookstores are booming after nearly being wiped out

I read an article on CBS news about small bookstores booming after being wiped out about. 

At first, people thought they liked Amazon’s prices, as well as those of other online retailers. Consumers realized they don’t know what to buy. Books are all about taste. 5 star reviews, may mean it was written for a specific audience who read it and loved it. For someone not part of that audience, they wouldn’t like it. 3 star reviews can mean a book was written for a specific audience who loved it, but it was marketed to a general audience, and so it got mixed reviews. 

What a good bookstore provides is recommendations based on you. Not on some generic author. Ideally, the small bookstore is staffed with voracious book readers who enjoy what they sell. “You like Kurt Vonnegut? How about you try this new up-and-coming author, he has the same tone, but slightly different style? I think you’ll like it.” 

Amazon tries to collect the data to make these decisions for you, but it has 3 problems:

  1. There aren’t always strong links in between particular books that are the same for everyone.
  2. Even if you rate past purchases, Amazon doesn’t know why you liked them, you may not even know yourself.
  3. Eventually, Amazon will show you too much that is the same, and you’ll be bored. That’s what happens to me on Netflix.

People want nuance in their recommendations. An online recommendation engine isn’t nuanced. It doesn’t know you’re in the mood to try something totally different today. It can’t describe a book in anyway except for the words written in the reviews.

If personal taste is heavily involved, there is a lot of room still outside of giant, online retailers. Society simply needed time to realize that these over-sized retailers aren’t great for society and jobs, and the convenience of free shipping is sometimes a negative when it deprives you of the joy of the tactile shopping experience, opening up each book, reading some excerpts, and making your decision. Plus, online shopping doesn’t have that bookstore smell.

P.S. You can read more like this on