Used bookstores ‘thriving’ in digital age

BYRON, Georgia (41NBC/WMGT) – Used bookstores are making a comeback. A Washington Post article says the stores are surviving the digital age. 

The author of the piece interviewed Gottwals Books owner Shane Gottwals. 

“Here’s our main warehouse where you see hundreds of thousands of books,” Gottwals said touring the used bookstore’s corporate headquarters in Byron. 

When the chapters change and the pages peel, Gottwal finds more motivation. 

“We’ve got more of them over here. We’ve got quite a few awards,” he said pointing to bookshelves filled with books, awards, and mementos. 

“Anybody can sell books but the special relationship, the bond that’s built between book seller and the book buyer, is a big deal,” Gottwal said. 

In addition to Gottwals Books, he owns the franchise Walls of Books — getting ready to open its 12th store in Washington D.C. — a long way from the fledgling used bookstore Gottwal and his wife opened in 2007.

“When you look at all the factors, it was not a good time to open a bookstore. Really, it was worse than it its now,” he said. 

Add to that a rise in popularity with tablets and e-readers and it presents a challenge — or does it?

Some readers love the feeling of paperback. 

“I have a kindle, but I actually own most of my books in paper. It’s just easier to flip back and forth and I like having something solid in my hands,” Rebecca Banks, a reader who was coming out of another used bookstore, said. 

“For the used bookseller, we can keep our prices competitive with the Internet,” Gottwal said. 

Price points are another competitive edge against ‘big box’ sellers.

“For someone like me who’s an English major and quite constantly needs the older versions of books. It’s just really convenient to have a nice little store I can go to,” Banks said. 

Gottwal says it’s about more than price or feel, but about the experience. 

“The decor, the experience with the customer service behind the counter and just the pricing are the pillars of what we do,” he said. 

A bookmark Gottwal hopes will keep its place. 

Categories: Local News, Peach County

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