Archive for May, 2011

Is running an independent bookshop the right thing?

May 6th, 2011

My bookshop is, like all other bookshops, likely to suffer massively from the fatal coincidence:

  • a retail spending downturn
  • increasing online competition from Amazon
  • technology shift of e-readers & tablets

Are there things our bookshop can now offer more widely?                                                                                                                     Do we provide a premium service?                                                                                                                                                                     Are there products or services we can provide at lower cost?
Is it being done in the right place, with the right people and resources, to the right audience and delivered in the right way?
In other words, what could be our market breaker ?

We must become that if we can.



May 3rd, 2011

Historically, most bookshops in the UK survive for as long as the rent and rate increases don’t combine to put them out of business.
Last November my rent came up for review mid-recesssion. My landlords are very large landlords and control virtually all the properties in the underground system in London. We have reached a settlement for a modest rent increase over the next three years. So all’s well that ends well.
But we hear and read that bookshops will now face their greatest threat from being sidelined by the all powerful Amazon and the rise of the ebook.
So will our bookshop still be healthy in November 2013?
Today for the first ever time, someone enquired as to whether they could download ebooks in the bookshop- the new technological tide is coming in.
Since we started our bookshops in 1984 we have seen out several major economic recessions, the change to the laws in Sunday trading, the abolition of the Net Book Agreement, and the advent of the Internet. During those years it was the power of landlords that held greatest potential for condemning our bookshop to disappear.
Now, without adaptation of our bookshop to the new post-ebook era,we’ll be emaciated beyond recognition and face relegation to the ranks of booksellers online. Our future as a physical bookshop depends on how well we can read, how well we can read our customers needs. We think we need to respond more instantaneously to customer demand, to curate our choice of books with greater sensitivity, enhance the unique  feel of our shop, and extend our online offering.