Congratulations to The Book Nook (children’s bookshop in Hove) for being named Children’s Bookseller of the Year in the Bookseller Industry Awards..
A BOOKSELLER is closing his shop in Wallingford after more than three decades following a fall in trade.
Toby English said a noticeable decrease in footfall and takings over the past six years meant he would not be renewing the lease on his shop in St Mary’s Street in the town centre.
He opened his shop in the Lamb Arcade in 1983, then moved 200 yards to St Mary’s Street in 1994.
Grandfather-of-one Mr English, who lives with wife Chris, 58, in Wallingford, said: “Footfall has decreased over the past four to six years so the shop has become an increasingly marginal part of the business.
“Everyone is buying everything off the internet and our internet sales overtook the bookshop about a decade ago.
“When I started out I never envisaged I would be selling books in Wallingford for 32 years.
“We have been at this shop for 21 years and have had a lot of fun engaging with customers and I will miss them, although I will still be selling at book fairs.
“Another lease would run for at least five years and we want to spend more time playing with our one-year-old grandson Noah.”
Mr English said the reduction in footfall, combined with the end of the current lease, led him to decide to close the shop.
Toby English Books has specialised in children’s books, art, architecture, academic books and history.
A half-price sale is now under way, running until Monday, April 20.
When Fiona Stager and Kevin Guy decided to expand their Brisbane book business, they considered setting up a stand-alone cooking and travel book store.
But when they took a closer look at their sales records at their existing Avid Reader bookstore, they realised there was a much more lucrative market to tap into.
“When I looked at the sales data I knew it had to be children and young adults,” Ms Stager said. “We were crammed and still selling lots of children’s books, so we decided to take the risk at setting up a dedicated store.”
Ever since word slipped out two years ago, at BookExpo America, that Jeff Kinney was considering opening a bookstore in his adopted town of Plainville, Mass., excitement has been building over what the Diary of a Wimpy Kid author would create. After all, he’s had the opportunity to visit hundreds of stores while touring, and he writes for kids.An Unlikely Story, which is slated to open in mid-May, will be a nearly 3,000 sq. ft. environmentally friendly general bookstore/community center in a town with a population of roughly 8,000.
Earlier this week when Kinney gave PW a tour of the space, he talked of the magical elements he’s hoping to bring to the store. Among other things, he’s planning to set up a Quidditch match above the children’s section, with replicas of the brooms used in the Harry Potter films. He also wants to have books appear to dance through the air overhead.
“We’re looking for ways to make this whimsical,” explained Kinney, who is involved in every detail of the bookstore. Right now, though, the air is filled with the earthy scent of tung oil, which was recently applied to the floor on the main level, to protect the reclaimed maple floor. The bookstore and café will be located in this space.
While Kinney confirmed that there will be a small Wimpy Kid section in the store, he said that does not want to “make it a Wimpy Kid store.” Instead, as a nod to young fans, he’s planning to open up his studio, which will be on the third floor. When he’s not in the bookstore studio—Kinney currently works in a house next to his home—children will be able to hold some of the awards he’s received, including his Nickelodeon Kids’ Choice Awards; draw on his tablet; and touch the 300-pound statue of Scrooge McDuck created by his “all-time favorite” artist, Carl Barks.
Excellent full-length feature on Waterstones MD James Daunt:
The UK’s leading high street bookseller said that sales of the Kindle ebook reader had plummeted this Christmas as a physical books market battered by ecommerce showed signs of improvement.
Waterstones said that sales of Amazon’s ebook reader had “disappeared to all intents and purposes”. The lossmaking chain of 290 bookshops had previously touted Kindle as the way to “solve the digital question” in 2012 when it launched a partnership with Amazon to sell the devices.
However, physical book sales at Waterstones rose 5 per cent in December as the company reaped the benefits of its store refurbishment programme and a relinquishing of control to local store managers who could respond to the tastes of local communities, said James Daunt, chief executive.
Foyles, the London chain of bookstores, said like-for-like sales of physical books had risen 11 per cent this Christmas. Sam Husain, chief executive, said sales of Barnes & Noble’s ebook reader the Nook were “not as impressive as one would expect them to be” and that physical book sales had outperformed ebooks.
The Bookshop Book is this year’s official Books Are My Bag book. How did you feel when you heard this news?
I’d met Meryl Halls – who runs Independent Booksellers Week – before, and we’d discussed doing something together in the future. Earlier this year we met up for coffee and had a chat. The Bookshop Book, which I was writing at the time, seemed to be the perfect match for their BAMB campaign. We knew it would be silly not to team up, so we had a chat with Constable (my publishers), and off we went!
UPDATE Summer 2015: This shop has now closed
Kennington Bookshop is owned by Australian Paula Kaplan and managed by Nick Creagh-Osborne. The two of them took over the premises (306-308 on the Kennington Road, previously a DVD/video rental store) some eight years ago, Nick having considerable experience as a bookseller. He was at the Travel Bookshop in Notting Hill for five years, and prior to that had spent several years managing the travel section of Harrods’ Waterstones. He also did a stint at the Marylebone branch of Daunt books. Before book selling his work involved arranging insurance programmes for petrochemical companies. Paula (as well as having owned the Literary Bookshop in Melbourne) had been an investment analyst, so between them they must have considerable business acumen.
The shop sells a mixture of new and second-hand books. Ground-floor level is mainly new books, with a few notable second-hand titles flagged up on display tables and shelves. The basement of the shop is a cosy retreat dedicated to quality rather than antiquarian second-hand books. As recently as three years ago this space had been used purely for storage. Nick tells me that its conversion into selling space was the result of a Eureka moment on Paula’s part, and adds that sales from the basement now represent a significant percentage of the shop’s weekly takings.
The second-hand stock is very keenly priced, so that browsers are unlikely to be put off when they lift the corner of the front jacket. I saw a lot of paperbacks priced at £2.50, so effectively you will be finding books at charity shop prices while browsing a far less random selection (on the contrary one that has been curated by an experienced bookseller).
This is a hardback copy of Laline Paul's novel The Bees, published earlier this year
Paula employs two part time booksellers, Will and George, who make an enormous contribution to the efficient running of the business during the week.
At the time of my visit (in mid-November 2014) the shop windows were displaying Christmas cards and advent calendars as well as books. Nick imports traditional German advent calendars which are much appreciated by local families who can only find modern designs elsewhere. Most customers who come in for a calendar end up buying a book as well. Although, as Nick points out, there is a finite window on this promotion, as come December 1st everyone who wants a calendar will have purchased one.
In common with the other bookshop owners and managers I have spoken to, Nick is appreciative of the efficiency of Gardners and Bertrams which means that the shop can offer an effective alternative to Amazon. Customers can order a book late one afternoon and it should be in the shop for collection the next day. They might not get a discount on the cover price but they won’t have to pay a delivery charge or arrange to be at home waiting for the package to be delivered.
The shop supplies books to several local schools and gets heavily involved in World Book Day. There are lots of mums with young children in the area, which is why the children’s shelves (organised in height order, picture books on the lowest shelf, teenage fiction on the top) are a significant section of the shop.
It’s not the biggest shop I’ve visited but by no means the smallest so I ask if he and Paula have ever been tempted to turn a corner into a place for serving coffee and cake. At this enquiry he opens a door behind the till and we step out into a courtyard at the rear of the shop, which is shared by a neighbouring cafe and other businesses. I can picture the scene on a summer’s day. The door at the back of the shop is left open. Customers make a purchase then go outside and order a coffee and sit at the tables for a chat with fellow customers or to dip into the book just purchased. I really must return in six months time!
Books with local area interest always do well (the shop’s bestseller this Christmas is likely to be Lambeth Past by Hannah Renier) as do books about politics. Paddy Ashdown and Jack Straw both live locally and have held successful signing events in the past.
There is also the Kennington Bookshop Supper Club and authors are often invited to give a talk before (or after) the group enjoys a two or three course meal.
The great joy of browsing in a well-run independent bookshop is that you are drawn to titles you haven’t seen elsewhere. I hope the few photos that illustrate this piece give you the feeling that that will indeed be so, should you care to visit The Kennington Bookshop.
The Big Green Bookshop
The Big Green Bookshop in Wood Green opened in March 2008 following the closure of a Waterstones branch where Tim and Simon, the co-owners, had previously worked.
The closure had not been anticipated because, as Tim explained to me, the branch had just enjoyed one of its best sales periods with Tim and Simon sharing an unexpectedly handsome bonus. But just a couple of months later they received the call from their area manager telling them the store, along with a couple of other sites, was to be sold to a high street clothing chain.
Using their redundancy money, Tim and Simon decided to set up in business and the Big Green Bookshop was born.
The preparation and grand opening of the shop has been preserved on video:
The spirit of community participation in, and voluntary support for, the shop continues to this day, with the premises being used after-hours as a meeting centre by countless groups, not to mention the many organised one-off events, including very popular comedy nights, where the shop can host up to 70 standing guests.
Over and above that the shop has supporters who are willing to step in and man the till at short notice if required and, because neither Tim nor Simon can drive, they rely upon the goodwill of ‘a man with a van’ (namely Mark White, aka Marky Market to move books to and from outside events.
Tim, it seems, is very much the public face of the business. Listening to him ramble amiably from one topic to the next reminded me in a way of listening to John Peel. He can talk without notes in front of large audiences and so is often booked to appear on platforms at conferences. On the occasion of one such booking, when asked if he could forward his Powerpoint presentation ahead of the actual event, Tim told the person on the other end of the phone, “Oh no, I don’t prepare anything!” There was a sharp intake of breath and a few days later a request that, rather than giving a talk, could he be interviewed on stage. “You don’t trust me do you?” Tim good-naturedly responded. “I really can talk for 20 minutes about the subject you’ve given me.”
That’s an understatement. I’m rather sure that Tim could talk for **two hundred** minutes about any subject you care to name.
On the day of my visit Simon, who is also the person who tweets and blogs on behalf of the business, was in Birmingham attending – if I am not mistaken – Cake International – the Sugarcraft, Cake Decorating & Baking Show, where he was hoping to sell hundreds of signed copies of an expensive coffee table book. Last month, Big Green Bookshop was the official bookseller at the Cake & Bake Show, Earls Court. I recommend reading the blog post all about this, and in particular how a small bookshop was able to acquire the amount of stock needed to serve such a big occasion.
To begin with I thought the metal mop-bucket in the window was a an avant-garde window display and began to frame my camera. I soon realised, on looking up and seeing the stained ceiling tile, that it was there for the very practical purpose of catching a leak from the roof.
The door of the shop was being left wide open, despite the time of year and lateness in the day, to help rid the shop of the smell of damp. The window area was not the only part of the shop that had suffered leakage.
I imagine it won’t be long till friends with the right skills or connections rally round to make the shop weatherproof once again.
For most of the time that Tim is talking to me he is multi-tasking, much of it spent on his knees, opening boxes, checking titles against the delivery sheet and putting them in piles corresponding with different customer orders.
When the piles reach the counter and get rubber-banded-up I notice, amongst the brand-new titles, a couple of clearly aged paperbacks. The shop is happy to source second-hand books for customers, and has a small section of its own second-hand stock, priced at just £1 (cheaper than many a charity store).
“To keep the books circulating,” Tim tells me, “we put some outside on warm days and let them go for 50p.”
The shop has an ingenious way of signposting its different sections. Small rectangles of blackboard have been screwed above each vertical shelving bay, with the title of the current contents written on in chalk.
This was Tim’s own brainwave. Once he’d come up with it, Simon badgered and badgered him to get the bits of blackboard made, even asking him if he’d spent his day off doing so. I imagine Simon’s version of this might be somewhat different.
One of the shop’s regular customers came in to buy a book for her son’s fifteenth birthday. She really wanted Grapes Of Wrath, but Tim only had Of Mice And Men so suggested Catcher In The Rye or On The Road. She didn’t feel her son was quite ready for On The Road. In the end I think they settled on 1984.
One of the orders being prepared for customer collection is a stack of books by Guy Bass, an author ACHUKA had been woefully ignorant of up till now.
If you fancy visiting the shop, it’s easy to find – just off Wood Green High Road, in between Wood Green and Turnpike Lane underground stations (slightly nearer the latter) on the Piccadilly line.
Recently the business has branched out into selling toys. When I first heard about this I assumed the toyshop was also in Wood Green, but in fact Tuffet’s Toys and Tales is in Brookman’s Park, Hertfordshire, which is where Simon moved out to after the birth of his second child, when his central London flat became too cramped.
He was already working several days from home. So he now spends that time working in the toyshop.
One of the shop’s special sections is for books published by Small Presses. There is a blog post that explains the business principle on which this display is based. I was slightly shocked at first to find that small publishers were having to pay Big Green Bookshop up front to stock their books (£1.50 per title) but the more I thought about it the more it made good (small) business sense.l
Towards the end of my visit Tim told me that it was his current ambition to secure a Patron of Reading in every school in the London borough of Haringey and – like the good businessman he is – he has some clear ideas about how this could be funded and, of course, how the shop could be involved in terms of providing reading matter.
Behind the counter 🙂
A leaking roof aside, I get the feeling Wood Green is going to enjoy the benefits of having its very own independent bookshop for a good time to come.
The Contented Reader has opened on Ingleton’s Main Street and claims to have “the finest collection of rare and antiquarian books in the Craven area and perhaps further afield.”
As well as old comics dating from as early as 1939, the two-storey shop also houses hundreds of children’s books as well as older paintings, maps and prints.
“We’ve got books on just about everything under the sun,” said Mr Killeen. “It’s more like a London bookshop but tucked away in a north Yorkshire village.”