Opinion Pieces

Online or in-store: where do you buy your books?


When I was living in Australia there was a really awesome bookshop at a local shopping centre. I loved to go in there and I would spend hours looking through their many shelves making mental lists of all the books I wanted to read. It was a great way to stay up-to-date with all of the new releases and to see what was popular. The store also had a wide range of really funky stationary. Many a notebook was bought from that store.

Coupled with my book shop visits I would also search online for books and compare and contrast prices, trying to get the best deals. My personal favourite is bookdepository.com because it has a wide range of books in many languages and shipping is free, worldwide. Sometimes when the book was cheaper online, I would buy it and wait for it to arrive in the mail. There were times where I just had to have the book, so I would buy it on the spot in the book store. I had this online/book store relationship with book buying for many years until, one day, that was taken away from me. Why? Because the shop that I loved to spend hours and hours in closed. Without warning, without notice. Gone. And then I started to feel extremely guilty. I kept thinking to myself, ‘Did I do this?’ Sure, I was a poor student with a fairly non-existent cash flow, and I may have bought more books online than in-store because they were cheaper… but…

I couldn’t stop thinking that I had not supported my local bookshop enough and that my online book buying was directly correlated with the store’s closer. Now, I have no idea if this is true or not. I really would like to think that it isn’t the case, but even after all these years I can’t seem to shake the feeling: maybe if I’d bought more books in-store, that bookshop would still be there.

Since moving to Switzerland there aren’t a lot of options for English book stores, although book shops seem to be everywhere, which is rather refreshing. Although, there is a giant English book store on the Bahnhofstrasse in Zurich and it has become a favourite haunt of mine. The shop is three floors with a huge range of books. They’re also fairly cheap too. Every now and then the store organises a book club and it is a great way for English speakers to come together. Even though I still order books online, I try to make sure that I still buy locally, from a book shop. If a book store does close now, it won’t be because I’m not buying enough books.

Where do you buy your books? Do you have a favourite bookstore in your hometown? I would love to hear about it.

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