For the first time since the PW awards were launched nearly 25 years ago, a children’s bookstore has been named winner by a panel of industry judges. Wild Rumpus Books in Minneapolis, Minn., which is celebrating its first quarter century in 2017, is this year’s PW Bookstore of the Year.
The bookstore, which was founded by Collette Morgan and Tom Braun, takes its name from Maurice Sendak’s oft-quoted line in Where the Wild Things Are: “Let the wild rumpus start!” Books aren’t the only wild things at this neighborhood shop, either. Cats, chickens, a ferret, and other assorted creatures, including an occasional horse, can be found there, too.
She might be a beloved and bestselling author of classic children’s books from Forever to Blubber, but Judy Blume says she wakes up every day “and I look to the sky, and I say, ‘whoever’s up there, I thank you for not having to write today’.”
Blume doesn’t have to write because, at 78, she has embarked on a new career: she’s an independent bookseller. Together with her husband, George Cooper, she has opened a small, nonprofit bookshop in Key West, Florida, where she’s working almost every day. And she’s loving it. She had planned “to take a gap year” after she finished writing and promoting her last novel, In the Unlikely Event. “I was going to relax and read and have this whole time with no pressure. And then bingo – the chance comes along to open a bookshop, and there you go. I guess I like that in my life … To learn something new like this, at 78, makes it all the more exciting.”
Blume and Cooper had been urging Mitchell Kaplan, founder of independent book chain Books & Books, to open a bookshop in Key West for years. He told them that if they could find a space, he would partner with them. They found a corner store, part of a large deco building , and with help from Kaplan and his team, Books & Books @ the Studios of Key West opened in February.
Waterstones has opened Harpenden Books, the third shop to be named after the town in which it is based.
In 2014, Waterstones opened The Southwold Bookshop, so named to reflect that it will be “a quintessentially local bookshop” and last summer the company opened The Rye Bookshop in Kent.
Waterstones managing director James Daunt said: “We are delighted to bring back to Harpenden a proper bookshop. It builds on the great success we have had with Southwold Books in Suffolk and The Rye Bookshop in Kent, towns which had also lost their shops. We are very proud of these local bookshops which, whilst a lot smaller than a standard Waterstones, are exceptionally attractive and well stocked.”
Libby Armstrong, a former banker from a bookselling family, has opened Beachside Bookshop at Avalon on Sydney’s Northern Beaches, the first to specialise in YA books, with about 200 titles at the front of the shop beside the adult books.
"My goal is for young adult books to come out from under children’s books," she says.
Too often they are lumped together in reading guides and bestseller lists, she says. But YA readers range from "the mature end of primary, ages 11 to 12" to adults. The older readers enjoy books aimed at ages 15-plus that can explore sexual relationships as well as universal themes of friendship, peer pressure and parents, and are well written but fast reads for busy people.
“We are delivering a really robust and proper profit. This will be the best true and underlying performance for this business for seven to eight years. A genuine, little small piece of black at last.”
At the heart of the revival of Waterstones is a revival in sales of physical books. Industry figures show that sales of paperbacks and hardbacks rose 3% in the first half of 2015, the first increase since 2012.
At the same time, the digital revolution has stalled. Sales of ebooks to consumers are falling and demand for the Kindle e-reader has fallen so much that Daunt has removed them from most of Waterstones’ 280 stores.
“I always believed there would be a natural point of equilibrium with digital reading – that it would overshoot, then come back and settle down. That made intuitive sense, and that indeed has happened,” Daunt explains.
“If you go on a plane or a train on holiday, you will see many more people reading a physical book rather than digital. It is a very different experience [reading an ebook]. You don’t remember it as well. I know it’s not just me. You don’t have the physical relationship. You don’t know where you are in a book. It may say 62% but it doesn’t mean the same thing. You can’t remember what it’s called because you haven’t had the cover.
“Now if you read books that don’t merit that, then fine. That’s why ebooks have been particularly strong amongst romance fiction and just pure escapist reading. That’s really gone digital, heavily digital.
“But books that you want to treasure, look after and sit on your bookshelf – the physical book is a better thing. You are left with a memory; you’ve got something that has an enduring value.
More coverage (this time from Digital Book World) of the new Foyles store – going to be worth a trip to Birmingham just to visit…
The 4,300sqft bookshop, designed by lustedgreen, stocks a range of 15,000 titles and includes a number of digital innovations for enhancing customer service and experience. Only the second branch to be opened by the family-owned business outside of London in recent years, Foyles Grand Central employs fourteen expert booksellers under the management of Steven Harmon.
Digital enhancements include:
– three audio-visual author pods and a children’s story pod, where customers can hear and see best-selling writers read their work aloud
– booksellers with handheld tablets, running a new Foyles web platform offering access to a range of millions of books
– digital signage throughout the store including a floor-to- ceiling display screen
Positioned on the upper concourse, it sits next to John Lewis and The White Company in the landmark new retail development.
The first authors to feature in the AV pods, designed by Audionation, will be Simon Schama, Neil Oliver and some of the Man Booker Prize shortlisted authors. In the story pod children will be able to enjoy Michael Rosen performing his new poems.
A live author talks programme is also planned for an events space accommodating 30-40 people. Cressida Cowell, author of the multi-million selling ‘How to Train Your Dragon’ series will open the children’s department on Saturday 17 October. Foyles has today announced further events including face-painting and a goody bag give-away on Saturday 26 September, and a Star Wars Reads Day on 10 October to mark the publication of the official new novel ‘Star Wars: Aftermath’ by Chuck Wendig.
Family audiences are central to the vision for Foyles in Birmingham, with children’s books a particular focus. Readers will also be able to enjoy the usual extensive Foyles range of fiction and non-fiction, with cookery, travel, music and more stocked alongside specially selected stationary and gifts.
The new in-store version of the Foyles website is designed for iPads, which all of the staff will be carrying to help them handle customer enquiries and orders on the go. The platform allows staff to respond to stock enquiries and, if an item is not in stock, order books for customers for delivery straight to their homes.
Recently recruited by Foyles as manager of the new store, Steven Harmon brings with him a wealth of retail experience in a number of different sectors in the region, having previously worked at Superdry, Hotter Comfort Concept shoes and most recently the stationery specialist Blott. He will report to Foyles Trading Director Siôn Hamilton and work closely with Janette Cross, Head of Customer Experience, to deliver excellent service.
Foyles Grand Central Birmingham is similar in size and style to existing Foyles branches in Westfield Stratford City, London Waterloo Station and Royal Festival Hall, also designed by lustedgreen. The opening brings the total number of Foyles bookshops up to six, with four branches in London, one in Bristol and one in Birmingham.
Siôn Hamilton, Trading Director of Foyles, comments:
“This is 21st century bookselling. We wanted a shop that affords a wide range of options to delight customers however they wish to connect with us. We are using technology to empower our staff, to share their love of books and to provide a more interactive and personal experience for our customers. By enabling booksellers with hand-held digital devices, we also are able to greatly increase the range that we can provide in our smaller stores and to respond better to customer needs.”
Simon Heafield, Marketing Manager of Foyles comments:
“With Foyles Grand Central, Birmingham we’ve embraced the latest digital technology to bring books to life, and author and readers closer together. We have taken the opportunity to enliven the instore experience by showcasing great books in an exciting new way. All of these technologies can be turned on and off and will be used in a sensitive manner. We are aware that many customers think of bookshops as an oasis of calm and these customers will be just as happy in the shop.”
The new Foyles Birmingham store opened today (30th September) featuring audio-visual ‘author pods’ reading stories to customers.
In a new move for Foyles, the Birmingham’s Grand Central Station bookshop contains three audio-visual ‘author pods’ and a children’s ‘story pod’ where customers can hear and see best-selling writers read their work aloud.
The first authors to feature in the AV pods, designed by Audionation, will be Simon Schama, Neil Oliver and some of the Man Booker Prize shortlisted authors yet to be announced. Children’s author Michael Rosen will also be performing some of his new poems in the children’s ‘story pod’.
The shop’s opening hours will extend following the acquisition and the shop’s book clubs will grow to include translated fiction and crime.
Nicklin, whose agency is based in London’s Mayfair, said she wanted to buy the shop as she believes the industry is entering an era of entrepreneurialism in which people with experience in the industry are undertaking multiple functions, from agenting and bookselling to hosting literary festivals.
Nicklin said: “I have always been fascinated by the days of the first John Murray, when Fleet Street was teeming with entrepreneurs engaged in every aspect of literary activity from bookselling to printing, publishing and distribution. We are entering a similar era now, as people with extensive experience of the book industry create companies that undertake multiple functions, from agenting, bookselling and e, p and magazine publishing, to events and festivals, classes, prizes, and lively salons.”
She added: “It’s exciting to be part of this neo-literary entrepreneurialism in which retail plays such a crucial role in the cross fertilization of expertise. I’m looking forward to the opportunity to work again in partnership with the authors and organisations industry-wide in developing and progressing platforms and outlets that enrich the experience of book lovers everywhere.”
ACHUKA was aghast when we picked up news of this bookshop closure via Facebook a couple of days ago. This photo is from our Indie Bookshop Feature #4.
It will be the second time in a month I have had to add “This bookshop is now closed” when the shop closes for good on July 31st, the Kennington Bookshop havnig also recently closed.
Jo De Guia, owner of Victoria Park Books in Hackney, is closing her physical bookshop and will instead supply books at live events.
The bookseller is going to sell books at events through Story Habit, a new initiative launched in partnership with LandSky, the organisers of the Town Hall Tales festival.
De Guia, who owns her bookshop’s building in Hackney, said the retail business had become “too overhead heavy to keep as a physical shop when it could be creating income”.
“Schools, families and booksellers need to work together to help young people access the kind of material that will encourage them to read for themselves, for fun. Especially in diverse areas like EastLondon young people need to be actively helped to develop a reading habit,” she said.
Congratulations to The Book Nook (children’s bookshop in Hove) for being named Children’s Bookseller of the Year in the Bookseller Industry Awards..