This past weekend, my home city celebrated the first Chicago Independent Bookstore Day. A handful of stores hosted author talks, offered discounts and gourmet cupcakes, and each featured a limited quantity of passes to access a special promotional product that could only be obtained at the physical stores.
Basically, the event was an attempt to mimic the runaway success that many independent record stores have had over the past few years with Record Store Day. The commonality behind these two efforts is the push to rescue the purchase process from a strictly online world, and help consumers truly connect with books and music in a physical way that’s not possible on Amazon or iTunes. Participating bookstore owner Linda Bubon explained this facet of the event in a recent interview in New City:
“We have a common, clearly stated enemy in Amazon. Amazon makes it absolutely clear they will completely dominate the entire book industry. Get rid of bookstores, publishers, editors and book designers. Just Amazon and the author. If we don’t fight back, we’re just going to lose a huge, cultural richness in bookstores—places people gather, where readers meet writers, where book clubs meet.”
Sound familiar? Just like Amazon and iTunes, I think it’s safe to say that third-party real estate websites have to potential to take the real-world connections out of the real estate process. But only if we let them.
Yes, Chicago Independent Bookstore Day made me think of the efforts of real estate professionals to explain that the home search process might begin with an online search portal, but it’s an involved process that also needs to take place in the physical world. It made me wonder: How could real estate professionals organize events to bring buyers and sellers out from behind their computers? I think NAR’s new ad campaign definitely speaks to the issue. What can real estate professionals do to bring this idea “home” to their local community? I’m imagining historic house tours, talks from expert stagers and loan officers, giveaways of Not-For-Tourists guides and local business gift certificates…