Glasgow’s Independent Bookshops Vs The E-Book Boom
By Zoe McMorran
National Bookshop Day was celebrated across the country on October 2nd, where Glasgow’s independent bookshops were celebrated. However, in recent years the rise in e-books has led to a decline in physical books, meaning less business for our beloved independents.
You walk into an independent bookshop; the smell of pages read many times, the smile from the person behind the counter and their friendly chatter, the feeling of being in the presence of hundreds of great authors both past and present. And then, maybe, you see the small display of e-books for sale. Cold, black screens that have the ability to hold any book you want within its mechanical pages. Whether you are firmly in your place on either side of the argument between e-books and traditional books, or you are somewhere in-between, independent bookshops in Glasgow are one of the last great preservations for books at an affordable price.
One such bookshop sits in the heart of Glasgow’s city centre, inside the Centre for Contemporary Arts. Aye-Aye Books stocks a wide range of books; from children to poetry, this small independent bookstore believes that without art, “you will never change anything”. The aim of this store is to get people thinking about the world in which we live; who it is run by, what powers it, how it works and how one can respond to these things. Like many independent bookshops, Aye-Aye Books’ website is possible due to Bookshop.org, an online bookshop that supports other online bookshops.
Bookshop.org’s mission, as it states on its website, is to support independent bookshops as they believe that bookstores are “essential to a healthy culture”. However, supporting local independent bookshops is not all that Bookshop.org does, as it also urges people to become “affiliates” with them. You can advocate for them through Instagram or talk about their cause in your book club, and if you recommend their books, then they pay you a 10% commission on every sale you make through your affiliation. Whilst the physical book is making its come-back from its long stint away after the e-book boom in the previous years, there are still undeniable advantages to electronic books.
The carbon footprint of physical books is absolute. Paper mills, harm to trees and wildlife, adhesive and ink are all factors to consider for those who care about their carbon footprint and climate change. However, e-books are not entirely free of carbon effects either. The website ‘Active Sustainability’ states that the waste of e-books includes “toxic components” such as zinc, arsenic and the mining of minerals which results in deforestation. Whether you prefer physical books or not, the impact that independent bookstores have is crucial to many; their owners, the staff, local authors and poets and most importantly, readers.
National Bookshop Day is important as it serves as a reminder to support your local businesses and bookstores around Glasgow. If this is done often, thanks to websites like Bookshop.org, there will be “no reason to buy books on Amazon anymore” as it states on their website.