Save This Endangered Species ~ Bookstores!

With the rise of the 21st Century, comes the downfall of the now, critically endangered species . . . yes, I'm talking about bookstores.

There used to be a beloved Barnes and Noble just a short drive from my house, and I spent many days and late evenings there, completely surrounded by my element -- books.  It was the Kahala Mall (one of Hawaii's main malls) Barnes and Noble, and the store was my favorite aspect of the area.  No trip to the mall would be complete without at least stopping in the store once . . . or twice . . . or many more times.

Needless to say, I was pretty upset when East Oahu's biggest bookstore faced its final chapter back in 2013, closing its doors for good.  I think the whole community was pretty saddened by the news, and I was surprised.  Whenever I walked inside, the store was ALWAYS busy, filled to capacity with people.  So why the closure?

My mom gave me the answer: "People use bookstores as their own personal libraries," she said, and I began to realize she was right.  After the Kahala Mall Barnes and Noble closure, I was forced to make the extra trip to one of the last standing bookstores on Oahu, the chain's Ala Moana location.  This second location also saw many clientele, but I observed many patrons who browsed practically all day and NEVER made a single purchase.  They would enjoy the space, but wouldn't contribute to its wellbeing.  We all like to browse, but this got to the point of ridiculousness.

On a particular occasion just a few weeks back, I saw two visitors sit down at the embedded B&N Starbucks cafe with a stack of books, drinks, food, and remain there for a few hours reading with greasy fingers and bent covers.  Well, I guess that was fine.  It's their books . . . or so I thought.  When I looked back up a short while later, they were gone and the books were STILL THERE.  I realized they had been abusing store merchandise without paying for it.  I was aggravated.  They used the books, didn't pay for them, and couldn't even RETURN them to their respective shelves.  I mean really?  Come on, people.

And yes, I know books are expensive.  Not everyone has the means to pay for them.  Even I can barely afford the prices.  But there is this amazing community resource called a library where you can borrow books -- for free!  Please, use this valuable resource.  I do, and often.  Bookstores are not libraries.  They are businesses that require profit to survive.

We all love our bookstores.  And it saddens me to think one day we'll not have any.  Hawaii used to have many bookstores.  Besides Barnes and Noble there were Borders Bookstores and a smattering of smaller, independent ones.  Borders went back in 2011, and ever since then, our remaining bookstores have been following the same path of fate.  Let's try our best to help the last few of its kind before bookstores are simply a thing of the past and go extinct.  I don't want to see a world without bookstores.

I buy books because no matter the cost, I want to fully support the authors I love, bookstores I love, and publishers I adore.  I know buying books isn't a problem with this online book blogging community, so from all of the book-loving, bookstore-goers out there, THANK YOU.

Julia's a dreamer. She often zones off periodically throughout the day thinking up plans for the future, pining over fictional characters, and concocting up possible plot lines for stories.

You can find Julia on her main blog, Peach Print, on Twitter @peachprint, on Instagram @yapeach, and of course, right here on the APCB blog.


  1. It saddens me, but I think this isn't just a thing that's going on in your country. I see more people browsing bookstores than actually buying something. My favorite book store does annual sales where all books cost 2$ and that's really when the place is bursting with customers. Honestly, if I had seen these people sit down at the cafe and read books without paying, I would've told on them. Isn't that technically thievery? I don't know. I think the main reason why people don't buy in bookstores anymore is because they can get everything cheaper online. I really believe in used book stores making it big eventually though.

    - Jen from The Bookavid

  2. Tell me about it. I had two Barnes & Noble not even 10 minutes away from me. One just recently closed and the other closed around last year. It's said to see this kind of thing happening but ultimately people are just facing the fact that one day we won't need anymore books and everything will be on a handheld. That sucks! I feel like people should just be wanting to pick up more books since they're so collectible and like little babies that you have to take care of and cherish. Awesome post Rachel!

    Alex @ The Book's Buzz

  3. I have never felt comfortable going into a bookstore and sitting down to read for hours. It definitely feels wrong to me because if I want to read it, then I should just buy it! Or like you said, get it from the library! Our B&N used to have chair spread throughout the store and I've noticed they have taken them out in the past several years to deter people from sitting and reading.

    It's definitely sad to think that our actual bookstores are being phased out!

  4. I didn't realize this was happening!! i left Hawaii so long ago and when i come back to visit i rarely have time to go to book stores. I"ll correct that next time I go! Gotta leave behind some of that mainland money :)

  5. This is so sad but so true! At the Barnes & Noble I used to go to, people just would sit and read for hours and never bought a thing! They even took away the chairs at the store to discourage people from doing that but people just sat on the floor instead. I love supporting bookstores and I wish more people would too.

  6. Oh I hate that! I'm still very sad because we had a Borders here that I loved, but I think that whole company shut down. Also, we had a great indie bookstore near us that had a great selection and good prices and they shut down too. Now I go to Barnes and Noble (which is more expensive), but I always hope they don't close down. It makes me sad and I wish more people would support bookstores as well.

  7. I know. I used to be able to walk up to Borders from where I live. It was a great store, so when they went out of business. I cried a lot. So I know what you mean. Now, I have to walk a mile to the nearest B & N. I always buy a book. I feel if bookstores don't survive, we will have to go to online retailers instead of the bookstores. I love the way a bookstore feels and how I discover books from the clerks and other patrons. It's so sad this is happening.

  8. This is something I've been conscious of a long time. I know online shopping is often cheaper but buying from bookstores is so important. In my home city we have MANY indie bookstores and so I buy all my books from them. I thinking buying books at real stores is just a good way to support every part of the biz.

  9. It really does make me sad to see how people use bookstores as their library. I've seen this kind of thing happen in the bookstores around my area in the UK. I just don't get how people can be comfortable with spending hours in a bookshop reading and then leave without purchasing a single thing. Like you said, if you can't afford it go to your library instead.

  10. Oh my goodness, I love this post! Whenever I can, I try to buy only from my the Barnes and Nobles in my area because I think that bookstores are such an amazing thing to have in a community, and I always feel guilty if I leave without purchasing something. It's not good for my wallet, but I love supporting bookstores!
    Great post!

  11. Oh, gosh! Great points. It makes me uncomfortable to see people sitting and reading in a bookstore, as if it were a library. I could never do it. It affects the quality of the books that actual purchasers may want to buy, too (like you said, greasy hands, especially if they are eating too).

  12. This post makes an excellent point. Bookstores are not libraries, and while it's understandable that not everyone can afford buying books, they shouldn't take advantage of a business. The bookshops in my country actually plastic-wrap all of their merchandises so this isn't an issue here. Maybe more bookshops could try going in that direction?

  13. This is so true! I absolutely love bookstores and it truly saddens me to see so many of them are closing down. Wonderful post! <3

  14. I see this scenario play out quite often in my own B&N. It always makes me shake my head, because there's a perfectly well-stocked library just down the street. I like to browse the stacks, just like anyone else there, but I don't make out like B&N is my own living room. Some people get really comfy!

    To tell the other side of the story, however, B&N supports this free-loading by supplying comfy "come sit on me for hours" chairs and by not instructing the associates to watch out for semi-permanent implants. I think they should implement a rule that books are not to be read in their cafes unless they've been purchased (with receipt proof) or brought from home (though how could someone prove that?). I understand that this kind of rule would require enforcement or policing of some kind, but it ultimately protects their pocketbook!

    It's a perfectly valid concern, and I'm glad you brought it up for discussion.

  15. I would love to do my part towards saving bookstores, but the sad truth of the matter is that I live abroad and any book shop sells books in a foreign language. I can speak it, but I much prefer reading in my mother tongue, a.k.a, English. I do shop in bookshops whenever I go home and visit though!

    My recent review and giveaway:

  16. It makes me mad to see people in bookstore cafes with books that they haven't bought yet. I am all for browsing the shelves and maybe having a quick flip through the book or a little read of the first chapter to see if it's the one for you, but I would never sit and read an entire book, AND dirty it too! Who do these people think they are?!
    I think (as much as I love them) ebooks are also having a big effect on bookstores, and the fact that there are places like amazon where we can get books even cheaper and without the effort of having to go anywhere to buy them. Perfect for lazy people!
    This is such a relevant post and I totally agree with everything you've said! :)

  17. This is so true! I've gone to B&N and seen the same thing on so many occasions. I almost think the inclusion of a Starbucks made this a bigger issue.

    It makes me sad that book stores are closing - there something special about browsing, picking up books and reading their summaries. Whenever I am in a reading slump this tangible browsing helps.

    Emily @ Follow the Yellow Book Road

  18. I am totally in agreement with you, books have been around since 1499!!I love holding and feeling the book in my hands, and the smell of either a really old or really new book!! I also love collecting bookmarks and swag which you only get with a book. I love bookstores, new or used If I see one, I try to buy something!! Great post!!


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