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未来书店( future bookstore)

27/02/2013 | G.D.| The economist

The  future   of bookstore: A real cliffhanger

THE digital onslaught of e-books and Amazon-style e-tailers have put bookstores in an existential predicament. Digital books are expected to outsell print titles by 2015 in Britain, says Sam Hancock, digital product manager at HarperCollins, and even sooner in America. With the demise of HMV, that music-peddling stalwart, still fresh in everyone's minds, bricks-and-mortar bookstores appear to be on borrowed time. So, what is the future of the bookstore?

This was the burning questions on everyone's lips at a recent event at Foyles's flagship bookshop on Charing Cross Road in London, where some of Britain's leading literary agents, authors, marketing managers and booksellers gathered to discuss its fate ahead of the bookseller’s move from its current rambling premises to the former home of Central Saint Martin’s art school just up the road.

For a bookstore to remain successful, it must improve “the experience of buying books,” says Alex Lifschutz, an architect whose London-based practice is designing the new Foyles. He suggests an array of approaches: “small, quiet spaces cocooned with books; larger spaces where one can dwell and read; other larger but still intimate spaces where one can hear talks from authors about books, literature, science, travel and cookery." The atmosphere is vital, he adds. Exteriors must buzz with activity, entrances must be full of eye-catching presentations and a bar and café is essential.

The trend for not only incorporating cafés in bookstores but also placing them on the top floor makes good sense. The new Foyles will have one, Mr Lifschutz explains, because this draws shoppers upwards floor-by-floor, which is bound to encourage people to linger longer and spend more. (Top-floor restaurants in department stores abide by similar principles.)

There are plenty of ways to delight the bookstore customer, but few are easily monetised. The consensus is that bookstores need to become cultural destinations where people are prepared to pay good money to hear a concert, see a film or attend a talk. The programming will have to be intelligent and the space comfortable. Given how common it is for shoppers to browse in shops only to buy online later, some wonder whether it makes sense to charge people for the privilege. Victoria Barnsley, head of HarperCollins, thinks it might be a good idea. She cited similar experiments among clothing retailers to charge customers for trying on merchandise. (Only 35% of fiction in Britain is bought in a physical store, says Ms Barnsley.)

But forcing people to pay for the privilege of potentially paying for goods could deter shoppers altogether. A more attractive idea might be a membership scheme like those offered by museums and other cultural venues. Unlike reward cards, which offer discounts and other nominal benefits, a club membership could provide priority access to events (talks, literary workshops, retreats) and a private lounge where members can eat, drink and meet authors before events. Different memberships could tailor to the needs of children and students.

To survive and thrive, bookstores should celebrate the book in all its forms: rare, second-hand, digital, self-printed and so on. Digital and hybrid readers should have the option of buying e-books in-store, and budding authors should have access to self-printing book machines. The latter have been slower to take off in Britain, but in America bookstores are finding them to be an important source of revenue. “The quality is now almost identical to that of a book printed by a major publishing house,” says Bradley Graham, owner of a leading independent bookstore in Washington, DC, called Politics & Prose. His shop leases an Espresso Book Machine and makes it available to customers.

The bookstore of the future will have to work hard. Service will be knowledgeable and personalised, the inventory expertly selected, spaces well-designed and the cultural events enticing. Whether book stores, especially small independents are up to the challenge, is not clear. The fate of these stores is a cliff-hanger.

11/08/2011 |西芒| 外滩画报

连续数年来香港书展,其实已经完全称得上“熟门熟路”,即便面对浩大的场面、蜂拥的人流,也基本上能很清楚地知道自己要的书大致在哪个位置,与此同时,兴奋感当然也在下降。不过今年还是有新的兴奋点,比如三楼的“未来书店体验区”。整个展区冰蓝的基本色调,配以大量玻璃以及苹果、A nd roid三维码等装饰,果然在视觉上极具未来感。



28/07/2012 |卢昌海《科学画报》

在我购买过的电子产品中, 用得最多的莫过于是亚马逊公司 (Amazon) 的电子书阅读器 (kindle), 在上下班途中及外出旅行时几乎天天都用 (相比之下, 对于我这种疏于交际的人来说, 手机一整天不响是常有的事)。 在购买阅读器之前, 我所携带的是实体书, 为了决定带哪一本书, 有时会像布里丹的驴子 (Buridan's ass) 一样大费脑筋。
随着电子书数量的快速增加, 及阅读器技术的日益发展, 将自己的部分或全部阅读 “数字化” 的人已越来越多。 2010 年 7 月, 亚马逊公司宣布自己的电子书销售已超过了精装本实体书的销售。 电子书的快速崛起是数字时代带给我们的无数新变化之一。 受这一变化影响最大的, 莫过于是传统书店。 事实上, 早在电子书崛起之前, 图书的网络销售就已分走了传统书店的很大一部分客流。 网络销售因无需支付昂贵的店面租金, 而具有经营成本上的巨大优势。 以美国为例, 就在亚马逊公司宣布电子书销售超过精装本实体书销售的同一年, 传统书店在图书业中的整体份额已然掉到了一半以下。 电子书的崛起不过是加速了图书业的重新洗牌而已。
在这洗牌过程中, 创立于 1971 年, 雇员人数近两万, 分店远及澳大利亚、 新西兰、 新加坡等地的美国第二大连锁书店博德斯书店 (Borders) 在走过了四十年的风风雨雨之后, 于 2011 年 9 月砰然倒地, 黯然退出了历史舞台。 关于博德斯书店倒闭的原因, 分析家们众说纷纭, 但面对电子书和网络销售的双重挑战应对速度偏慢、 应对策略失当无疑是很重要的因素。 博德斯书店的倒闭并不是传统书店困境的唯一写照。 据统计, 在 2000 至 2007 年间, 美国有超过一千家大大小小的传统书店倒闭。 也许是从这一系列书店倒闭的事件中看到了不祥的未来, 博德斯书店的倒闭即便在一些能因之而受益的竞争对手眼里, 也成为了一件令人伤感和自省的事情。
那些在洗牌过程中幸存下来的传统书店, 则不断改变着经营格局以谋生路。 除尽力跟进电子书和网络销售这两个新兴领域外, 很多书店扩大了店内的咖啡部、 儿童玩具部及电子书阅读器的展示台, 实体书所占的空间则有所缩减。 如果这代表了生存战略和发展趋势的话, 那么会不会有一天, 实体书所占的空间缩减为零, 传统书店蜕变成咖啡馆和玩具店呢?
这并不是杞人忧天, 而是一个很多人正在思考, 且答案有可能在不远的将来浮出水面的问题。 乐观人士表示, 传统书店作为读者与作者的互动场所及社区文化中心, 有着无可替代的功能, 从而将继续存在。 但技术的发展果真无法替代这一功能吗? 恐怕谁也说不准。 我倒是觉得, 传统书店有一项功能确实是无可替代的, 那就是在爱书之人心目中的怀旧功能。 只要这一功能尚存, 书店就很可能仍有未来, 只不过那未来也许不是作为普通商店, 而是变成象博物馆或俱乐部那样需要买票进入的地方。 倘若真有那样一天, 也许你依然会透过某家书店的玻璃门看到一位白发苍苍的老人, 坐在书香环抱的靠椅上, 一边品着咖啡, 一边静静翻阅着古老的实体书, 那就是本文的作者——假如他还健在的话。
但再往后呢? 当由实体书和传统书店伴随成长起来的爱书之人本身也退出历史舞台, 只剩下自幼习惯于电子书的新一代时, 书店还会有未来吗? 我就完全不知道了。 不过, 著名美国科幻小说家阿西莫夫 (Isaac Asimov) 在 1951 年时曾经写过一则题为 “他们有过的乐趣” (The Fun They Had) 的儿童科幻故事。 那则故事的主人公是生活在 2157 年的孩子, 那时已没有学校、 没有教师、 也没有书本 (当然更没有书店), 所有的学习和阅读都是在屏幕上进行的。 故事中的孩子在家中阁楼上发现了一本古老的实体书, 记述着过去孩子的生活, 那样的生活让他们羡慕不已……
也许阿西莫夫是对的, 实体书和传统书店终将消失。 那就让我们珍惜这两者依然存在的今天, 珍惜让未来孩子们羡慕的 “我们的乐趣” 吧。



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