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Friday, 6 September 2013

The New Face of Bookshops

When travelling last month I took the chance to check out the state of bookselling in Canada and the UK, and it was mostly a disappointing exercise. Bookstores, unable to make enough profit by selling books, have become houseware and accessory stores, filling their retail space with knicknacks and completely unrelated products.
 This is a branch of Chapters - the equivalent of Borders - hardly looks like a bookstore, does it?

I guess they need to do whatever it takes to survive. There were certainly no independent bookstores in sight in any of the towns and cities I visited, only big chain stores, or secondhand bookstores.

But on the positive side, I was impressed by the care taken by the Toronto Central branch of Indigo, where I found all kinds of interesting displays designed to unite books with readers who would enjoy them. That's where bricks and mortar stores need to concentrate their efforts to stay relevant. Having titles recommended, either by a human or a well-thought-out display, tips the balance between buying a book in the shop or getting it later online.

 Here are books for Book Clubs, and mystery lovers.
 The books most often stolen! Fascinating set of titles!
And special interest books grouped together so customers can browse them easily, probably finding more than one they'd like to buy.

There's no silver bullet to 'fix' the problems with book selling, and I think bookshops will continue to struggle in the face of cheaper and more convenient book-buying options. It will come down to customer support. If they can offer an experience the customer is willing to pay a little more for, then they'll survive.

Meanwhile, writers continue to find new and exciting ways to get their books in front of readers with or without bookstores.

Speaking of which - open invitation to a double book launch on Tuesday 10th, 6pm at Takapuna Library. Shauna Bickley and I are talking about our new publications Lies of the Dead and Sunstrike. All welcome!


1 comment:

  1. It's all rather depressing, trying to get our books 'out there'. I wonder if there is a sympathetic store owner (not a chain) in our area who would rent us some space. It needn't be a book store. In fact, it shouldn't be. As Bev has pointed out, book stores overseas are becoming accessory stores. Is there perhaps a craft store around? Or a gift shop? Is there a kindly store owner of any kind out there whom we could approach?