US book chain Borders has announced plans to pull out of the UK and may sell off its stores, prompting fears that many may close. What can be done with the bookshop retail format to better compete against the Internet and supermarkets?
There is a very real future for retail bookselling, but it won’t be about big chains. The best bookshops now are all independent, selling to the same type of customers that Waterstone’s sold to in the 1980s and early 1990s – those that aren’t discount-chasing, but looking for an immersive experience of browsing and informed service. The future is about small, boutique, owner-managed shops with hand-picked stock.
Martin Lee, Co-founder, Acacia Avenue
Bookshops need to shake up and put the customer in the control seat. Get the service right: give me areas to research on-line and hang out – areas that are pure information heaven. As Jerry Seinfeld said, ‘A bookstore is one of the only pieces of evidence we have that people are still thinking.’ Specialise: make the stores smaller and more intimate. The bookstore should be the place to experience, explore and celebrate the written word.
Sarah Page, Creative director, Household