Yesterday, my husband and I went shopping in a big-box bookstore. I used to spend hours shopping in book stores and frequently came away with books for myself, my husband, and the kids. We did come away with one gardening book yesterday, but that was all.

Why? Because the bookstore was almost bare. Most of the shelves of books were set up along the perimeter of the store and in the middle was a coffee shop, surrounded by displays of record albums (yes, someone is trying to bring those back), puzzles, art supplies, games, journals, totes and bags, paper weights, legos, activity kits, coloring books, stuffed animals, etc.

One large section of the store was completely empty–it was carpeted and didn’t look like it was being remodeled, just unused.

In the very back of the store was a section for DVDs and CDs.

When it came to looking for books in various categories/genres, we couldn’t find anything on our own. We had to keep going to the information desk to ask where to find things. I’ve never had that problem before. When we did find the sections we were looking for, most were very small compared to what they used to carry. And we mostly saw only novels by the most famous writers.

What does this mean? Well, from what we gathered (and we could be wrong), sales of paperback and hardcover books are slowing down as more people are buying ebooks. Bookstores probably don’t want to take up space with books that they don’t expect to sell. For readers, that means they have limited choices unless: 1) they order print copies from the bookstore or online; 2) they buy ebooks; 3) they read books from their local library; or, 4) they find books in used bookstores.

For writers, it means that getting a publisher to publish your books so that you can get them into bookstores might not be possible unless you are very, very lucky.

As a side note, the one book that I was tempted to buy was a history book for $14.99. It sounded interesting, but I didn’t know much about it and my husband was ready to leave. He bought his gardening book and we went home. A few hours later I looked up that history book on Amazon and found that the Kindle version was only 99 cents. I bought it.