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The Role of Brick and Mortar Shops In an Online World

With so many online bookstores, like Amazon, establishing completely online storefronts, it sometimes seems like brick and mortar shops simply can t compete. With the requirements of additional employees and real estate costs at every location, it is hardly surprising that shops like Borders and Barnes & Noble often charge higher prices on books than their exclusively virtual counterparts.

Despite this, there are still many advantages to purchasing a book from a store that has physical locations. Here are some of the benefits of buying from a brick and mortar shop:

  • Speed: Even with one-day shipping, you can never get a book immediately when you purchase a hard copy on the internet. Buying in store means you can start reading during the check out process and keep your nose in the book the rest of the day.
  • Gift shopping: Sometimes it s hard to know what to get someone as a gift until you happen to run across it in the shop. While you can browse the virtual bookstand online, it frequently takes a lot longer to see something that jumps out at you. Additionally, if you re buying the present last-minute, you may not have time to buy online.
  • Browsing: Similarly, if you aren t quite sure what you are looking for, seeing a title in person can be quite beneficial in the final decision of the purchase. This way you can look at the images in an art book or read a random paragraph to test the writing style. While Amazon offers a feature that lets you look inside the book, it is only offered on some books and will only show you select pages.
  • Quality control: Almost every book you purchase in an online bookstore will be in excellent condition, but every now and then, a package may be damaged during shipping or you may receive a defective item. While on the other hand, when you purchase a book from an actual location you can inspect the exact copy you plan to buy so shipping damage is not problem.
  • Shipping costs: You will never have to worry about shipping costs when you buy your book in the store. This also applies to those who order a book online and request pick up at the shop. While many sites offer free shipping, not all do and this can be a huge increase in the cost of your title.
  • Payment options: Any physical store should accept cash and most will accept checks. When it comes to online stores, if you don t have a credit or debit card, you might not be able to shop at all.
  • Returns: In order to return something you bought online, you will need to repackage the book and send it to the company. Many places will charge you for the return shipping and some will even refuse to issue a refund on the price you paid for shipping the item to you in the first place. When you return and item in store, you can skip this hassle and get a refund or replacement immediately. Most shops that have physical locations will let you return the item to a store, even if you ordered online, but check their returns policy ahead of time just to make certain.

While online bookstores are generally less expensive and often more convenient, it is important to consider your options before placing an order, particularly if speed, price and return policies are important. In many cases, your best option will end up being an online store with retail locations in your area, as this can provide you with many advantages for each type of storefront.

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