Luring you back into bookstores… with wine

Published on
July 4, 2016
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About two weeks ago I was in a pickle.

It was Friday night, and there was a book due out the following Tuesday that I was dying to get a copy of into my hot little hands. Knowing that occasionally my local bookstore breaks street date and puts out copies early (shh, don’t tell the book police!), I decided to check the stock online. Sure enough, they had put out five copies of the book early. What to do? Test my patience and keep my longstanding order with Amazon, or rush to the bookstore and snap up a copy early?

In a move that was totally uncharacteristic for me, I decided to remain patient and wait until the book faithfully arrived in my mailbox on Tuesday. Surprisingly, buying the book early would have saved me a few dollars (I say surprising, because books tend to be cheaper online than in the stores these days—this was a rare exception). But when I factor in how much it would have cost to drive over there, perhaps not.

I love bookstores, but the ease of shopping online (and the savings!) have meant that the time I spend in them has really declined over the years. And I think many people are in the same boat, which is why the bookstores are desperate to lure you back in again. Barnes & Noble, in a move some are lauding as ingenious and others as ridiculous, announced plans to start serving beer and wine in their stores. (But before our American friends get too excited, this is limited to just four stores to see how it goes.)

Many are complaining that with booze on the menu these bookstores could become bacchanalian free-for-alls, but don’t forget that select movie theatres have been offering wine as part of their VIP experience—along with larger, more comfortable seating and reserved ticketing—for several years now. I attended a few of these types of screenings while living in the UK, and no one seemed to take advantage of it. I think book readers would be equally well behaved. We’re a sophisticated bunch, are we not? And after all, few things go to together as nicely as a great book and a glass of wine.