I notice a lot of threads where posters are sad at the demise of independent book stores, due to the rise of Amazon and Chapters. I'm not a fan of Chapters, I won't defend it. However I'll defend purchasing books online, I think people judge the act too harshly as being pocket book driven, narrow minded and soullless.
Lots of posters are nostalgic for the feel of old community book stores. I think that to them it came off as providing recommendations of what to read. In my life, I've never relied on a bookstore to tell me what to read, I can't recall ever buying a book because it was well-placed. I never read the book reviews in the back of the newspaper of go to the library book clubs. I rely on word of mouth of friends, universes I'm familiar with from TV and movies, names of authors... and lately online commentary.
My favourite part about Amazon is the review system. For any product there that's remotely famous, there will be a large number of reviews discussing the merits of the product, and if you look on the page of some random book or DVD you'll find these reviews that are of very literary quality. I've come to rely on these for a lot of purchases. A while back I bought Babylon 5 and absolutely hated the first few episodes, and I was going to return it. I only stayed with it, because I noticed some of my concerns showed up in some of the reviews there... I kept watching and it's now my favourite series. Had I been browsing in a bookstore by myself, with one other guy in the store reading something else and listening to his IPOD, that would not have happened.
I'm reminded of a historical note I got from my roommate, a lit grad student. Apparently in the 19th century, working class people would get together in taverns and discuss their serialized fiction over beer. That sounds like fun, where do I sign up? I don't sign up anywhere, the practice is dead. There's a few reasons for this, but one of these is that there is a far greater number of cultural products, which means that the proportion of the population that likes what I like or what you like is much smaller. I have to go to io9.com to discuss science fiction in general from which I recently read the great recommendation to read Charles Stross, I have to go to syfy.com to discuss Galactica and now Caprica, Whedonesque to read commentary on any of his works, and Kryptonsite to read about Smallville. At that point, I'm already online, and it makes more sense to purchase books in that avenue.