Will There be Bookstores in 2021?

No, this obviously isn’t happening right now with virus cases, as expected, surging once again in most of the US and world. What happens in the next few months will give us all an idea of what to expect in 2021.

What I really want to talk about is bookstores. It was less than a decade ago that Borders closed its doors, mostly on account of e-books. Barnes and Noble and Books-A–Million (the two largest chains remaining in the US) have been struggling for years before the pandemic took customers out of stores. Half Price Books (my personal favorite) seems to be okay because if their doors are open, then they can buy books from the public.

Months ago I told my brother I thought JCPenney and Barnes and Noble would close for good. So far, I’ve been wrong. All the bookstores around me have been reopened since the spring. That doesn’t mean customers have returned or will be doing so. Though we can still buy online, there are lots of people unemployed or furloughed. Books may not be at the top of the list of needed items.

I’ve gotten this far and haven’t mentioned indies. They are probably the most likely to shut their doors during the pandemic. They can’t host author events and even when open, customers may not return.

Recently I was thinking to myself about Half Price Books not having their 20% storewide or coupon week promotions. If you’re familiar, then you know both of these promotions bring in lots of customers over several days. They’ve moved their sales to their website, which isn’t my preference. I was thinking to myself about the few dollars I could be saving if they’d had their promotions. But what’s important is that they’re able to survive (along with all the bookstores around). That won’t happen, but at least they’re still fighting, like many in the country.

To answer my own question, yes I think there will be bookstores next year. The real question is how many.

2 thoughts on “Will There be Bookstores in 2021?

  1. I think there will be bookstores in 2021. I am not certain how many of the small sellers will make it though, and that’s what bothers me the most. Independents are going to have a hard time. Will consumers be comfortable shopping in their stores? Bookstores are not like supermarkets in that people handle the products and return them to the shelves, where other customers handle them again. Will this pandemic have tainted consumers to the point they are uncomfortable shopping in this manner? I am not sure. I think it all depends upon how quickly, or not quickly things return to normal, or something that resembles normal. I think we are far too early in this game to really see how things are going to go long term.


    • 100% agree. I read recently in Texas even if a vaccine became available today, officials don’t think it would be widely available to the public until at least July. So if we’re just using that timeline, that’s a long time for these smaller companies to continue operating (if at all) on a fraction of their revenue. I’ve been to my local store maybe twice recently and there are people there, but not like before. I’m 28 and I really minimize everything I do away from home, so I know lots of people with health conditions or who are older refuse to go out at all. It’s going to be tough and no one really knows what’s coming.


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