A BBC report suggests that bookshops are used by many customers for window shopping before they go home to buy the same books online for much lower prices. If so, this would be very sad. However, it does make me wonder about the future role of libraries.
I know of some American evidence that libraries in the USA perform a similar function. Users that a first look at a book in a library, and subsequently purchase it from a retailer. I am not aware of any UK research on this, but it is a key argument in suggesting that the book industry should see libraries as allies in building demand for books rather than as enemies seeking to cannibalise their sales. Libraries have Ben particularly attacked for this in terms of ebook sales.
If one were to accept such a view of the role of libraries, it would be confirmation of the rightness of Brent in maintaining its book stock (and substantively increasing it in Kilburn Library). It might also help inform the design of libraries.