Yes, that’s exactly what I have in mind too.
Amazon started out as an online bookseller. But do people know there is a physical bookstore in Taiwan whose business is so good it opens for 24 hours a day? Now it’s even a tourist destination, a must-go for the more cultured crowd.
What attracts the large and loyal crowds is not only the wide selection of books – there are around 250,000 in the Dunnan store alone – but Eslite’s policy of allowing customers to read for as long as they want without having to buy. But how does the company, which has 42 branches in Taiwan and one in Hong Kong, make money (around US$430m/ £274m last year) if it lets customers use its stores like a library? Well, there is also a wine cellar, teashops, clothing boutiques, a food court and cafes. Music and dance performances, film screenings, art exhibits and cooking shows – all promoting books – are a further draw.
Online is about buying physical products. Offline is about experience and social. I still don’t understand why Barnes and Noble doesn’t make a trip to Taiwan and copy Eslite’s model.