Has Amazon destroyed bookstores? (Not what you think)

One of the most frequently asked questions about Amazon and the retail world is, “Did Amazon destroy bookstores?” Unfortunately, the answer isn’t as simple as it seems.

This guide examines how Amazon and e-commerce have helped change the way consumers buy books and attempts to determine if Amazon can be linked to the destruction of physical bookstores.

Did Amazon Destroy Bookstores in 2022?

Although many bookstores have closed due to the rise in popularity of e-commerce, Amazon is not the only reason for their destruction. In fact, closures have more to do with changes in reading habits and an increase in competition than anything else. By offering discounts and fast delivery, Amazon has taken customers away from bookstores.

Read on to understand how Amazon changed the world of retail book selling and to see if it helped destroy physical bookstores!

Why are physical bookstores closing?

While we are all aware that many physical bookstores have closed in recent years, many disagree as to why.

Amazon in particular is often held responsible for the closures. However, many think this is due to factors other than just Amazon.

First, let’s start with what happened to the physical bookstores. Since the peak in 2009, over 4,000 brick-and-mortar stores have closed in America alone.

However, this number does not include independent retailers that went out of business during the same period.

However, these bookstore closures can be attributed to a variety of reasons:

  • Increased Competition From Online Shopping: With the rise of online shopping, there are now more ways for people to buy books without ever having to set foot in a bookstore. As a result, physical bookstores are losing customers.
  • Population decline: Fewer people live within walking distance of a bookstore.
  • Reduced Demand for Print Media: Print books are becoming less popular with readers, resulting in fewer sales in physical stores like Barnes & Noble or Borders Books. Additionally, physical books make up only 20% of published content, while eBooks make up 60%.
  • Physical stores are expensive to run, and they have to pay rent for their building, electricity, heat, and so on.
  • Physical stores require staff who have to be paid, which can often be very expensive.
  • Physical stores cannot take advantage of economies of scale in the same way that e-commerce retailers can take advantage of low distribution costs by distributing goods over the Internet.

As you can see, there are many reasons for these stores to close and Amazon alone is not to blame.

Is Amazon still a bookstore?

Many of you may not remember that Jeff Bezos originally started Amazon as an online bookstore in his garage in 1995.

With that, readers would often turn to Amazon’s website to find some of the most obscure titles not available in local bookstores.

By 1997, Amazon had grown large enough to begin trading on the NASDAQ.

Since the early 2000s, Amazon has continued to grow, entering new industries like clothing, games, and groceries.

However, it has still clung to its base as a bookstore. As a result, customers can access eBooks from Kindle products, have Alexa read stories to their kids, and even open physical bookstores in some locations!

Why is Amazon bad for bookstores?

One of the main reasons Amazon is bad for bookstores is that it’s a retail giant.

Like other retail giants, Amazon has turned the entire retail world upside down and many physical stores have closed because they can’t compete with Amazon.

Additionally, convenience is one of the top reasons people shop on Amazon and not other stores.

For example, people often purchase items without ever leaving their homes, saving them time and effort.

Additionally, it’s easy to compare products from one retailer to another using the site’s search engine.

In the past, if someone wanted to buy a new book, they had to go to a crowded store that only sold books and find an employee who was knowledgeable about books in general or this book in particular.

Now they can just type “New Release eBook” into their computer and have access to millions of titles.

Additionally, people prefer to buy books online because they feel it costs less money than buying an item in person.

For example, buying the same item on Amazon can cost $0.99 less than buying it in a bookstore; That might not seem like a lot, but when you buy one item every day, it quickly adds up!

In the early days, new visitors were drawn to Amazon by significant discounts and fast delivery options.

As a result, in 1999 Amazon quickly began taking sales away from both corner bookstores and big brand chains like Borders Bookstore.

Also, Amazon helped defuse controversy over its growing size and dominance by championing how it’s helping small businesses that have brought in third-party providers.

However, a study by the Institute for Local Self-Reliance, a research and advocacy group, found that marketplace sellers had to pay Amazon $34 for every $100 in sales.

What’s next for bookstores?

It may feel like bookstores are in decline, but they’ve seen a bit of growth in the past few years.

Between 2008 and 2015, their number increased by 6%. Considering how many physical bookstores have closed in the last 15 years, this is remarkable.

Physical bookstores are still holding up for the most part because people haven’t entirely lost the desire to buy tangible books to keep on their shelves at home, rather than digital ones.

Additionally, physical stores can offer customers something they can’t get online – a personal touch and interaction with real-life store owners.

To learn more, you can also read our posts on Amazon book return policies, Amazon book lending, and Amazon book sales statistics.


While some people argue that Amazon is bad for bookstores, others point to other reasons for the decline in physical bookstores.

With the popularity of e-commerce, there have been significant changes in retail. For example, today’s society is more interested in digital books than physical ones.

With this, e-commerce is growing within the industry, bringing with it increased competition that threatens physical locations.

In conclusion, most will agree that the book retailing industry is changing and that it is difficult to predict what will happen next.