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Bookshops and bookshops… March 11, 2017

Posted by WorldbyStorm in Uncategorized.
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What do people think of this, Waterstone’s UK’s efforts to bring in customers by using non-Waterstone’s branded shops. I’m always in favour of people encouraging reading, though I think that given the internet there’s little danger of that going out of style any time soon, so anything to encourage that seems good. But there are problems… a creeping homogenisation of the main streets….

The managing director of book retailer Waterstones [James Daunt], has defended the company’s decision to open three unbranded stores, saying it will be good for “customers, town centres and… staff.”
Waterstones has recently opened three stores under different names, sparking accusations that they are posing as independent bookshops to avoid the backlash against the homogenisation of Britain’s high streets.

I’ve mixed views on it. At this rate I’m just glad, sometimes, that bookshops persist. Chapters, for example, in Dublin and similar shops in Cork, have largely remaindered books and yet to see people buying physical books… Eason’s too, albeit in a different way. That curious mini-bookshop in Arnotts. And then there’s Hodges Figgis on Dawson Street, plus a number of independe

I’m not surprised to read that:

Daunt, whose background is in independent bookshops, says he wants all Waterstones stores to act as independents. And he said he expected more small unbranded Waterstones stores to open up in the years ahead.
“If you want to enhance a high street you need to act as an independent … and part of the reason we did it is to convince our own booksellers that they have the autonomy that they do have,” he said.

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1. EWI - March 11, 2017

Isn’t Hodges&Figgis owned by Waterstones?

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Starkadder - March 11, 2017

Yes it is. Certainly a Waterstones’ book token a relative gave me was redeemable in H&F.

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2. 6to5against - March 11, 2017

It’s a little like big breweries putting out a craft beer.

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3. sonofstan - March 11, 2017

Waterstones have pretty much won already. It’s rare to find a general bookshop in an English town now, outside London and obvious exceptions like Oxford, that isn’t a Waterstones. There’s a lot of things i blame capitalism for, but not least of them is eviscerating the pleasure of a spare afternoon in a strange town, since it will be just like the last one.

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WorldbyStorm - March 11, 2017

Yes. That said I also love second hand bookshops. Fewer of them these days but still around.

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sonofstan - March 11, 2017

the expected rises in business rates here will probably kill many of those off. So many bad things can be traced back to the tories.

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4. Gerryboy - March 11, 2017

Hay-on-Wye, just inside the Welsh border, during the offseason is a place to stroll through, with all its second-hand bookshops. In Irish towns nowadays I wander into the charity shops where there are always a few shelves with cheap books, some of them a few grades above common chicklit. It’s sad to see so many family-run little bookshops closing. Maybe it’s partly to do with the spread of Easons, but maybe to do with young people spending most of their reading and listening time on the internet.

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sonofstan - March 11, 2017

Never wise to get a bookshop owner talking about charity shops, particluarly the Oxfam bookshops – don’t have to pay for stock, don’t pay business rates, mostly volunteer staff; and still they price stuff out at the market rate.

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WorldbyStorm - March 12, 2017

Some aren’t too bad, I’ve handed in a fiver for stuff and got it for a euro, but yes, there’s a parasitic aspect to some of that which is hard to take and the lack of pay…urggghhh.

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Gerryboy - March 12, 2017

Ah g’wan and feel charitable!

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WorldbyStorm - March 12, 2017

I was in Dungloe a while back and they refused to take more money for some second hand DVDs and books I was buying. That surprised me.

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5. GW - March 12, 2017

I like both electronic and paper books – electronic because you can cut and paste easily from them if you’re making notes, and they’re portable. I have to single out Verso here for their non-DRM watermarking policy which means that you can work with their books on a laptop as well as read them on a tablet.

Every German e-Publication is DRMed to the hilt with deficient reader applications.

I’m still hoping for a good e-ink high-res tablet that can display an A4 page well, because it’s easier on the eyes. But if I have something that I or the family are likely to refer to I like to invest in a hardback, if it’s affordable. It’s long-lasting and distraction free.

I’d recommend the open source application Text Fairy (Android) for photographing and OCRing excerpts from paper texts. Don’t ask me about Krapple devices.

Fortunately the independent book shop hasn’t yet been driven out of business in Berlin, but it’s happening. A well known second hand bookshop in Kreuzberg (where I bought my collected poems of Brecht in a nice portable second-hand hardback edition) is having to close down because a prince of capital (Bergruen) is raising the ground rent to one that is beyond the reach of a second hand bookshop owner.

That said it’s remarkable what kind of bargains you can still get. I got a collected works of Thomas Mann for 40 yoyos last year and collected Kurt Tucholsky for 10 a couple of months ago. Now I just have to find the time to read them all. I keep promising myself when I retire (If I’m ever able to retire)…

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6. Gerryboy - March 12, 2017

Donegal ist eine andere Welt am wildischen Atlantischen Weg, nicht wahr?

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GW - March 12, 2017

I don’t know Gerry – I don’t recall buying books in Donegal although I was quite often there. There is still a bookshop on the diamond in Donegal town isn’t there?

Tell that it’s so.

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GW - March 12, 2017

The Four Masters – is it still there?

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Gerryboy - March 12, 2017

There is a monument to the Four Masters on a narrow bridge over the Drowes river (famous with salmon anglers) south of Bundoran on a back road to Manorhamilton. Can’t tell you about a bookshop in Donegal town, but Magees tweed shop still stands on the Diamond in Donegal and you can buy a tweed hat for outdoor wear in rainy weather.

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7. universalunionist - March 12, 2017

You might enjoy this story of a union recognition strike in a rather famous bookshop: https://broadsidesdotme.wordpress.com/2013/04/20/oxford-book-shop-strike-blackwells/

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sonofstan - March 12, 2017

Excellent thanks. I love that bookshop, tempered somewhat now by that story….

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