Showing all posts tagged: bookshops
4 July 2023
Who said no one reads books anymore?
While television remains the preferred method of summertime “escape” in Britain, with just over one in two people tuning in, reading comes in as the next best means of putting the worries of the world aside. This according to data released by the London based Publishers Association:
Second only to watching TV (54%), 33% of respondents say that books offer them the best form of escapism when they are having a bad day. This is ahead of streaming TV (32%), looking at social media (27%), listening to radio (24%), going to the pub (21%), going to the cinema (16%) and listening to a podcast (14%).
In other good news for authors in Britain, 2022 was a bumper year for book sales, with a record six-hundred and sixty nine million physical books being sold, an increase of four percent on 2021.
21 April 2023
A sleepover in a bookshop, especially one that is reputed to be haunted, sounds like a fun way for bookworms to spend the night. That’s what happened recently at the Last Bookstore in Los Angeles, when the bookshop made fourteen sleepover spots available every night for two weeks, earlier this month. Julia Carmel, writing for the Los Angeles Times, described the experience:
I wasn’t sure what to expect when I signed up for one of the first ever sleepovers at California’s largest new and used bookstore. I had vague hopes of staying up until sunrise, reading and exchanging slumber party-esque gossip with strangers, all while surrounded by the highly-Instagrammed book tunnel and book sculptures that fill the former bank building.
I don’t know if this ever happens in Australia, but it’s something local bookshops ought to consider. Decent size stores, that have the book-tunnel and horror vault intrigue of the Last Bookstore would be needed. There’s surely options, but at the moment I’m thinking of the Harry Hartog bookshops.
18 April 2023
Paper, or physical, books are by no means relics of a bygone era, if sales thereof in the UK last year are anything to go by. Six hundred and sixty nine million books were purchased in 2022. Against a population of sixty seven million people, that equates to about ten books per person.
A Year in Publishing, a look at the state of the book market by trade body the Publishers Association, found that sales were up 4% from 2021 in 2022, 669m physical books were sold in the UK, the highest overall level ever recorded.
UK book exports also increased by eight percent, with Heartstopper, by Alice Oseman, topping the list of books sent out of the country. To date, there are now five books in the Heartstopper series — which has spawned a Netflix TV show — with a sixth, and final, title on the way.
Meanwhile in Australia, nearly seventy one millions books were purchased in 2022, an increase of about eight percent on 2021, according to Nielsen BookData figures. I’m not sure what quantity of books sold were physical, but it seems bookshops had a good year, so I’m guessing a lot were paper.
It’s to be hoped bookshops in Australia (and elsewhere, of course) are doing well again, after a difficult few years. While it’s purely anecdotal, I saw that Dymocks, a large Australian bookseller, is opening a brand new store in the Sydney suburb of Bondi Junction in June. Saying re-opening a bookshop is probably more accurate, as the company did have a shop there, which closed several years ago. While opening one bookshop does not a trend make, the move can only be a good sign.
8 April 2023
Online bookseller Book Depository says it will shut up shop in late April 2023. Established in the United Kingdom in 2004 by Stuart Felton, and Andrew Crawford — a former Amazon employee — the company went on to be bought by Amazon in 2011.
The news comes as a blow to book buyers across the world:
Thousands of Book Depository customers, including bestselling authors, reacted with sadness over the announcement. “Sad to hear the news. A huge loss for all of us,” New Zealand-based author and poet Lang Leav tweeted. “My heart breaks,” another Twitter user said.
Not everyone is upset by the announcement however, according to Dan Slevin of New Zealand bookshop association Booksellers NZ. He says local sellers struggled to compete with Book Depository, who didn’t levy GST — a consumption tax — on sales, as they were not based in New Zealand, and also offered free delivery on purchases.
Dan Slevin, chief executive of Booksellers NZ, said there were “metaphorical champagne corks popping in bookshops all over New Zealand”.
I detected similar sentiments in Australia being expressed on Twitter. Book buyers are unhappy, but local booksellers not so much. Possibly some delivery services in Australia may also be rejoicing, if some of the tweets I saw are anything to go by.
21 January 2023
Australian bookseller Readings released a list of their top one hundred bestselling titles for 2022, yesterday. Bodies of Light by Jennifer Down, winner of the 2022 Miles Franklin award, Dropbear by Evelyn Araluen, winner of the 2022 Stella Prize, and the aforementioned Cold Enough for Snow by Jessica Au, are among Australian written titles to feature in the top-ten segment.
But Japanese author Toshikazu Kawaguchi’s 2019 novel, Before the Coffee Gets Cold, came in as the number one seller last year. I’m a fan of time travel stories, not to mention cafes and coffee, but am surprised to have missed this one until now:
In a small back alley in Tokyo, there is a café which has been serving carefully brewed coffee for more than one hundred years. But this coffee shop offers its customers a unique experience: the chance to travel back in time.
In Before the Coffee Gets Cold, we meet four visitors, each of whom is hoping to make use of the café’s time-travelling offer, in order to: confront the man who left them, receive a letter from their husband whose memory has been taken by early onset Alzheimer’s, to see their sister one last time, and to meet the daughter they never got the chance to know.
But the journey into the past does not come without risks: customers must sit in a particular seat, they cannot leave the café, and finally, they must return to the present before the coffee gets cold…
26 November 2021
John Forsyth, chairman of Dymocks Group, one of Australia’s oldest booksellers, is concerned local government isn’t doing enough to rejuvenate Sydney’s CBD, particularly in the wake of recent pandemic imposed lockdowns. He isn’t alone. Businesses in other commercial centres across Greater Sydney are also feeling the pinch. They’re urging municipal councils, many of whom are facing elections in early December, to do more to bring people back into city centres.
But I’m not sure it’s that simple, and other ways to support struggling businesses may need to be considered. Some workers don’t want to return to central business districts. Having been forced to work from home, many are content to stay there. And who can blame them? Working from home means less time lost to commuting, commuting in the first instance, and more time to spend with the family, and on other things they find important. These people are still supporting small businesses, but ones closer to home, rather than in the city.
It’s long been my thought that advances in technology were always going to bring about this sort of shift in work practises eventually, the pandemic simply hastened the inevitable. What happens in the few months will be pivotal. Many organisations are paying rent on buildings that are virtually unoccupied. How will they respond? By instructing workers to return? Or by scaling down office space? But with some workers looking to relocate to rural regions, and renewed talk of four day working weeks, will we ever see the return of city workers to pre-pandemic levels?
9 October 2021
Happy Saturday. Today is Love Your Bookshop Day, and the occasion couldn’t be timelier after many bookshops in some parts of Australia have had to keep their doors closed for months, and contend with a series of lengthy lockdowns that have affected everyone.