"Will printed books die out of history?" It is a frequently discussed and debated question in recent years, ever since digital reading and online bookstores started booming. However, the increasing number of bookstores in cities around the globe might already offer an answer to the question.
During the past weekend, 2017 Chengdu International Bookstore Forum was held in the provincial capital of southwest China's Sichuan, and defining a new role for the bookstores in the cities has become an attractive topic for the attendees.
In a seminar dubbed "One City, One Bookstore: How do Bookstores Shape Urban Lifestyle" on an opening day, representatives from Brazil's Sao Paulo, Italy's Milan and France's Arles talked about the relations and interactivities between bookstores and cities they settled in.
"I don't think bookstores are just places to sell books. They have far rich meaning than that," said Fabio Herz, chief of the Livraria Cultura, a chain of bookstores in Brazil. He said that bookstores in Brazil have a history of more than 60 years.
According to Herz, the first one was founded by a couple fled Germany during World War Two, and by lending books to the refugees, they expected that books could help them to get rid of the shadows cast by the war.
Herz believed that bookstores should help to shape the styles of the cities and become the cultural center of the cities. "We have 18 stores in Brazil, five in Sao Paulo. Averagely, there would be 11 events each day, such as cuisine culture, reading gatherings, book signings and even concerts," said Herz.
In Arles, a city with only 50,000 residents, bookstores have close bonds with an annual photography festival. According to Aurelie Lhotel, manager of export of the Actes Sud le Mejan, a bookstore chain in Arles, the sales of the art books will see an obvious increase every year during the photography festival.
Besides the signing events, the bookstores will hold wine parties every Saturday, inviting readers to share their reading experience while enjoying the wine.