This is actually a semi-serious proposal for booksellers.
There’s a lot of legitimate worry about the way ebooks have undermined the brick and mortar bookstore. Especially for indie bookstores who were just emerging from the rubble left behind after Borders and Barnes & Noble overtook just about everything in the 1990s.
When new technology really takes – ebooks are no laser disc – it demands adjustment. So either bookstores can disappear into the ether or they can find a way to adapt to the e-book market.
Why not take command of what’s billed as a disadvantage? Use the hard copies in the bookstore as your showroom. Then establish kiosks where people can walk over and order those books for their reading devices. Yes, some can and will just order via a SmartPhone. Many will still want hard copies. But for those who are ruled by the impulse buy, this is one way to keep their business in-house. This might even work for certain indie bookstores (starting with Powell’s and then going smaller.)
This could even the playing field for smaller presses as well – especially the print on demand types.
Touch-screen kiosks range from around $300 – $7K. It might just be affordable on a small bookstore sckale.