What we're buying again this season: Books

The invention of the e-reader initially spelled the demise of physical books. Earlier this summer, book retailer Borders was forced to close its 400 stores in the U.S., blaming the combined forces of consumers turning to e-readers and discount bookseller Amazon for it's downfall.

But bookstores that have managed to continue to survive — the indies and the giant Barnes & Noble — have managed to thrive this holiday, according to a report in the New York Times. Barnes & Noble saw a sales increase of 10.9 percent this Thanksgiving weekend, compared to last year:

“This year so far, it’s been the year of nonfiction,” said Peter Aaron, owner of the Elliott Bay Book Company in Seattle, citing “The Beauty and the Sorrow,” a history of World War I by Peter Englund, and “Thinking, Fast and Slow” by the Nobel laureate Daniel Kahneman, an exploration of thinking and intuition. “What’s extraordinary about the books that are out there is that they’ve been so well written and such a pleasure to read. Maybe people have an appetite for nonfiction right now, just for some sort of grounding in reality.”

In addition, sales of expensive coffee table books have been robust. So are we feeling some sort of nostalgia for tangible books? Probably not. Most people would rather give a physical book as a gift during Christmas, than buying e-books as gifts. Stuff that's stored in "the cloud" can't be wrapped and put under the tree.

In addition, e-readers are sure to be a hot gift this year, as it was in previous ones. Once the holidays are over and sales drop, book lovers might see more bookstores meet the same fate as Borders. We wouldn't be surprised if bookstores became holiday pop up shops in the future, rather than year-round brick and mortars.

Related Links:

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