We have all heard the lament, “technology is going to be the death of print media!” Many people assume that physical books are on their way out in favor of the electronic versions embraced by the younger generation.
While the future prospects of print books may look grim to some, others are much more optimistic. Rare bookselling still fits into today’s culture and economy, and there are quite a few reasons why.
- A Chance to Support Local Businesses.
Most rare book shops are independently owned and therefore provide a great opportunity for people to shop locally. Many of these shops also host events that bring the surrounding community even closer together. Even a community’s children can get in on this with storytimes and other activities for kids. By hosting events like this, booksellers are helping to instill a love of literature into the next generation, ensuring that people continue to appreciate books many years from now.
- The Internet Enables Booksellers to Adapt.
In contrast to strengthening the local community, booksellers are also able to reach customers around the world through the Internet. Rather than being detrimental to the rare books trade, the internet is helping book dealers to cope with the changing ways that customers interact with businesses. With more and more transactions made through online ordering, smart business owners know where to focus their efforts. More connected than ever before, booksellers are now able to find clients they didn’t even know they had, in parts of the world they couldn’t otherwise reach.
- Used Books are an Environmentally Conscious Choice.
With the recent emphasis on taking care of our planet, more people are becoming interested in recycling and other thrifty habits. People love thrift stores and recycling items into art. Electronic books certainly save paper, but so does borrowing or purchasing used books. Since most rare books are out of print or antique, people who are trying to go green by shopping for used books will enjoy finding room in their collections for a few unique and rare volumes.
- Books are an Affordable Habit.
Everyone loves a good deal, but college students take this to the extreme. Accustomed to living on pennies a day and easting mostly cheap instant noodles, they try to find every possible avenue to save money on everything from coffee to textbooks. Discount book sites and searchable price comparison tools help college students stretch their precious dollars. Students already try to buy used books for their classes and often hang out in libraries and bookshops to study and socialize. With young people already frequenting bookstores and in love with used books, who can say that the younger generation won’t carry on the legacy of its bookselling predecessors?
- Bookselling is a Flexible Trade.
Young people aren’t always just the ones buying books–they can be booksellers too. Becoming a rare books dealer is a great way to embrace the “side hustle” culture of today. People can easily buy and sell books online or in person while holding another job or attending to other commitments like school, family, or travel. This kind of flexibility is important for younger people and may draw more millennials to the bookselling business.
- The Number of Rare Books Will Increase with Time.
This may sound like an obvious point to make, but it’s true. It’s just a matter of time before the latest books we’re enjoying now become rare. When an author passes away, the supply of signed copies stops. As the years go by, our favorite books go out of print. But even after the books we love seem to fade from popularity, we can find them sitting on the shelves of our favorite rare bookstores waiting to be enjoyed by a whole new set of people.
With all of these ways the business is thriving, it’s plain to see that the future of rare bookselling is not in question. Next time you enjoy an ebook or audiobook, remember that new technology is not ending the long life of print media. The working together of books and technology simply expands the reach of literature to a wider audience. The rare book business is not going away, nor is it becoming “rare” itself–it is adapting and thriving in a new age.