I felt a bit guilty reading a weekend newspaper report about the 25% fall in the number of independent booksellers in the UK over the past years.My guilt was based on my buying habit of using Amazon to purchase books these days because it is just so easy to do so.I probably buy 5 or 6 books a month and so I'd be a regular customer of a local bookshop if I'd gained such an affinity. ( I am currently really enjoying Andrew Rawnsley's book on the rise and fall of New Labour; The End of the Party)
I then rationalised things a bit more by reminding myself that I do occasionally use a local bookstore in Hanley when I am in the city centre but I'm not aware they have an on-line offering so all I am really doing is exercising "channel preferences" to suit my buying behaviour. If pressed I'd also admit that buying books on-line is fun, but not as enjoyable as browsing a bookshop. In reality, 21st century retailing is all about giving customers a range of choices in how to do business with you but never compromising on service excellence. I would however gladly support the Booksellers Association's goal of helping creative and entrepeneurial people who run bookshops to thrive by cutting car parking costs in city centres. Many of us who believe in local branches on the High Street would welcome more imaginative measures to revitalise town centre shopping .Sometimes there is no substitute for face to face expert advice.