BRONXVILLE, N.Y. – An increasing number of Bronxville residents are buying books online and using e-reader devices, a nationwide trend that is jeopardizing traditional bookstores.
Bronxville residents were not surprised by a report that Barnes & Noble will be closing as many as one-third of its 689 retail stores throughout the country over the next 10 years. Including a separate chain of 674 college stores, the company now has nearly 1,400 stores.
As a result of people shopping at on online stores such as Amazon and buying e-reader devices like the Kindle, it has become increasingly difficult for bookshops to stay open.
Gene Sgarlata, owner of Bronxville's Womrath Bookshop for the past 28 years, said the book industry is in a time of change.
"News of big bookstores closing doesn't surprise me because it's very hard to maintain a huge inventory if some customers are lost," said Sgarlata. "I've had customers that would come to shop on a regular basis for years that I don't see anymore. If the big stores can't stay open because of these reasons, how can people expect small stores like mine to?"
In 2011, Barnes & Noble’s main competitor, Borders, filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection and liquidated its assets.
The rate of stores closing hasn’t changed much in the past decade, but Barnes & Noble had been opening more stores than it was closing until a few years ago, according to published reports. An average of 20 stores will close each year, up from approximately 15 over the past 10 years.
Bronxville resident Andrea Guttman said that while she loves books, she understands why more people are choosing e-reader devices.
"While some people love being able to hold a book and flip through the pages, others don't mind the difference," said Guttman. "My daughter has told me she loves the convenience of being able to carry around countless books in one small device. Today's age is all about technology, and these devices certainly deliver that. The bookstores need to do something before it's too late, because we can't have them all disappear."
The public needs to know that if they want bookstores to remain in existence, they need to shop there, said Sgarlata.
“I've considered to selling electronic books like the Kindle, but I haven't made up my mind yet,” he said. “I've seen people come in my shop and find a book, and then look it up on their phone to order it. People just need to be more conscious about their decisions, and realize even though they can buy online, maybe it’s not the best option. I like this expression, 'find it here, buy it here and keep us open.'"