Marshfield Book World Closing Along With Other 45 Store Locations
By Molly Schecklman – Book World, a book store founded in 1976 by Willaim Streur in Rhinelander, Wisconsin, announced last week that it would soon be having a permanent “Sorry, we’re closed” sign in its windows of all 45 locations across the Midwest.
Carrie Obry, the Executive Director of the Midwest Independent Booksellers Association, mentioned in an interview with Publishers Weekly that “the real impact will be in the communities that have to do without a bookstore until someone opens a new one (1).”
Marshfield has Thimbleberry Books, which is a traditional, used bookstore, but when Book World closes its doors expected at the beginning of January, Marshfield will no longer have a bookstore that sells new books and arrivals.
However, the closing of Book World isn’t that surprising as bookstores across the country have been making a steady decline over nearly the past 20 years. In 2004, the United States had over 38,500 bookstores. In 2018 however, there is projected to be just over 28,500 bookstores left in operation according to the statistics website, Statista (2). That’s nearly a 26% decrease in just 20 years.
In today’s society, consumers are very influenced by technology and that affects the way they read books. Consumers have started to opt for different formats of books, such as e-books (electronic copies of books). With this shift, the book industry has taken a direct hit.
E-book sales are projected to account for a quarter of global book sales by 2018 and estimated to generate nearly 20 billion dollars in revenue according to Statista (3).
The first book store to open in the United States was Moravian Book Shop in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania in 1745. The store has expanded over the years growing in to neighboring buildings and is still open today. So, what is Moravian doing to keep their store open that other bookstores cannot?
“You have to get creative, and I think that’s been evident over the years. I know this downtown has seen its rises and falls. We’ve created something here. What you hear people say is we’re an experience,” said owner Lisa Girard in an article with The Guardian from 2016 (4).
What’s the next step in the rebuilding of Marshfield’s bookstore population? Maybe there isn’t one. Maybe the city will stick with the last remaining store it has open. Or maybe, the city can learn from Girard and start creating an experience that will attract and retain those that still wish to experience the wonders that one cannot get from e-books.
Book World’s liquidation sales will begin on November 2 at all 45 locations. The sales will continue until all inventory — books, magazines, greeting cards, gifts, and other sidelines – is gone. The company expects that all stores will be closed by January 15, 2018.