Bookstores are cool again, thanks to millennials and Gen Z! And, this makes my heart rejoice! I absolutely LOVE to read. And I’ve never really gotten into reading books on a screen, or even listening to audiobooks.

Traditional Books vs. Digital

For me, there’s just something about a good, old-fashioned book.  The fresh, crisp pages, the smell.  You just don’t get that from digital books! Plus, a traditional book offers less distractions. At least for me! I’m easily distracted when I have a screen in front of me. But I find peace curled up with a good book.

Mostly, I read a LOT of personal development.  I don’t have as much time to read as I would like, so I try to pick and choose wisely. If I’m traveling or know I’ll be waiting somewhere a while, I try to have a book handy.  That way I’m not mindlessly scrolling Instagram or TikTok.

Every time I go to the Augusta Mall… I have to stop in Barnes & Noble. Even if I don’t buy anything. I just LOVE it. I’ve never really been in the smaller type bookstores, but if you know of some good ones locally, let me know!

Bookstores on the Rise

I was so excited when I read that millennials and Gen Z are making bookstores cool again!  Bookstores had been dwindling, with the digital age, and the ease of ordering online.  But for me, again, there’s just something special about being IN the bookstores!

An article on Bloomberg states between 1991 and 2011, the U.S. lost 1,000 chain book stores. But, it appears the pandemic may have helped bookstores to rebound! In fact, that Bloomberg article points out that book sales are up 13% year-over-year and more than 172 indie bookstores opened last year in the U.S. Even Barnes & Noble, who thought they would pare down their stores have seen an increase and plan to add 20 to 25 more stores this year!

What’s Helping This Growth?

One big thing has been Gen Z! They are hopping on TikTok to discuss book trends. And for millennials? We’re a bit nostalgic, longing for those bookstores we grew up with.

Alexandra Lange, author of the Bloomberg article, says book chains “were about access and freedom.” It helped bring books to rural America, gave teens a hangout spot, and even helped young adults figure out who they were.  Lange writes, “These private enterprises offered accommodation to a broad range of people, in terms of class, race, and age.”

Pandemic Effects

It only makes sense that when our world got turned upside down during the pandemic, we all longed for a sense of “normalcy,” which includes those nostalgic feelings of our youth.  In a troubled world, nostalgia is powerful and a refuge.

Krystine Batcho, Le Moyne College professor, psychologist and researcher of nostalgia, highlights that nostalgia is an old coping mechanism for millennials who went through the financial crisis and its aftermath.  Millennials are leaning into simplicity.

And for Gen Z, bookstores are symbolic of a pre-social media time they never experienced. This generation only really knows a digital world, and the pandemic only intensified the recognition of that. While they bonded digitally during quarantine, TikTok served as a way to bring up trends and talk about their favorite books.

According to the Insider article, youth nostalgia fosters a sense of belonging.  And I’m just happy to see that bookstores are what has provided that feeling!

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