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Are Bookstores Still Relevant in 2023?

Spoiler: Heck yes

From the Internet to social media, we live in an age where information can be accessed from anywhere with a few clicks. Since we live in an era where information is at arm’s length, it seems inevitable to ask:

Do we still need books, and if not, are publishers and bookstores bound to go out of business?

What are books? 

Let’s start by defining a ‘book’. Unless you’re still living in the stone age, using stone tablets to read about leadership and motivation leadership, I’m sure you’ve read a book or two. Still, just in case, a book, well, a physical printed book, is basically made with paper stacked and bound together. To protect the stack of paper, thicker or more durable material will be used as a cover. These covers are sometimes made of cardboard or thin wood depending on the publisher or author.

Yes, that’s what a book is: paper stacked and bound together with covers protecting them.

While in essence, all books are created equal, what makes each book different from the other is what’s written inside of the book!  

Essentially, a book is a medium for knowledgeable people to communicate or show what is on their minds and transfer their knowledge to their readers. Books might not always be in the form of words, but also pictures. Imagine a person that has an idea about writing a story about action and adventure. Through books, an author can express what’s on his mind. The author can choose to use the form of literature or comic book or graphic novel to show the readers the story in his mind.  

Correspondingly, for readers, books are something that we can refer to or take inspiration from.

Say you want to become an outstanding leader of a company in the future, you can read leadership and motivation leadership books to make your dream closer or achievable. Books can also be utilized as a guideline or introduction to a new element or culture. For example, travel & nonfiction are books that talk about different people from different countries around the world. These books tend to list out and explain the difference or similarities of interest or culture in a country, helping people understand a country before travelling to it.   

What types of books are sold in bookstores? 

Books have existed for as long as humans possess the ability to write and read. So, in this time and age, it is without a doubt that there is a huge – and I mean a HUGE – variety of books. Books that are found in a bookstore are mainly categorised into two main categories: fiction and nonfiction.

Fictional books are defined as books that are created by imagination or might not even something that exists. These books might sometimes be a comic book or graphic novel, action and adventure books and even romance novels. On the other hand, nonfiction books are books that might be travel & no-fiction or religious and inspiration which are basically books that are based on facts and evidence. 

Books have also their own target audiences they appeal to. There are political books that are written for or by politicians, children’s books that are targeted toward kids, investment books for investors, Sijil Pelajaran Malaysia (Malaysia Certificate of Education) books, or more commonly as SPM books that are for students – or more likely overbearing Asian mothers.

In most countries, there is also a dedicated section in most bookstores for customers of religious and inspiration section. It is safe to say that different genres of books have been published by business organisations around the world.  

Are bookstores going out of business?  

For our readers from the stone age, let me explain what a bookstore is. To put it into simple words, a bookstore is a store opened by a business organisation with bookselling in mind. The first-ever bookstore is the Librairie Nouvelle d’Orleans which is in France and is still operating today. Today, there are a lot of famous bookstores around the world.

One of the famous bookstores is said to be Shakespeare and Company. This bookstore had an interesting history, as it is said that this bookstore was forced to close during World War II as the owner, Sylvia Beach refused to sell books to the Nazis. In the end, Beach would end up in a Nazi concentration camp and her bookstore would never see the light of day again.

The bookstore was later again brought back to life by George Whitman after the name was offered by Beach herself. Unfortunately, Whitman passed away in 2011 and the bookstore has been passed on to his daughter. His daughter, who is named Sylvia Beach Whitman is still doing a good job at keeping her bookstore a famous site to visit. 

In Malaysia, we have a lot of bookstores too. Some of the well-known bookstores in Malaysia are Popular Bookstore, ‘MPH’ Bookstore and Borders bookstore branches. These are bookstores that we often see in shopping centres across our country. Of the variety of bookstores, one of Malaysia’s biggest bookstores is ‘Kinokuniya’ which is a Japanese Bookstore. Being the biggest business organisation bookstore in Malaysia, they offer an even wide range of books from highly demanded kids book, spm book to rare action adventure books. Due to it being a huge bookstore, people tend to go there to look for rare or older books. Even when you cannot find a specific book you want there, the bookstore will gladly help customers to look for books through their huge selection of suppliers.   

Now, the more relevant question is whether bookstores going out of business in Malaysia. While Malaysia’s business organisation is quite different from overseas, where Malaysia’s bookstores are mostly without places for people to sit down and read comfortably while foreign bookstores have dedicated space for people to read. While this might be due to the business mindset of business organisations in Malaysia, it would definitely boost people’s interest in books if space were provided for the readers to read before any purchase.

Still, it would be naïve to say that bookstores are going out of business as evidence suggests that bookworms are on the rise because of the pandemic. In fact, an even larger scaled bookstore, Tsutaya, which is also from Japan has opened a mega-branch in Malaysia.

So, it is safe to say that bookstores are far from being irrelevant.  

So, interested in books? Are you ready to start your own bookstore business in Malaysia? While solely starting a new bookstore might be a challenge, why not give it an interesting twist? Since in our generation, there are employee-less convenience stores, why not do an employee-less bookstore? Give the customers some space to relax and read their books as Malaysian bookstores rarely provide this.  

If you’re looking for someone to help incorporate your bookstore business, look no further than MISHU as we are experts at our craft. We are eager to help you start your own bookstore, so do not be shy to schedule a free consultation with us! 

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