For the next two days, London Book Fair (LBF) – the global marketplace for the rights of negotiation and the sale and distribution of content across sources such as; print, audio, TV, film, and digital channels – will host their 45th anniversary. Visiting the fair are 25,000 publishing professionals who will go there to learn, network and begin their year of business.
As global giants such as Amazon, eBay and Kindle corner the market, we take a look at the challenges faced by independent book shops.
Which brings us to the question; why are independent booksellers so important?
We spoke to 3 independent booksellers across the UK who have shared their opinion;
“As a new independent bookseller, we have had to have a unique selling point to have any chance against the global giants! Ours is firstly a customer experience not just service. At Linghams we can hand sell our favourite books. But, we also like to hold real time conversations with our customers, we listen to what they say, what they like to read and what they don’t like to read. We also like to tell our customers about our next author event, whether they are a huge name or a debut!
“We love independent booksellers! And we believe that all human passion and energy can be found in them!”
“Bookshops offer so much more than just books. They provide ‘Work Experience’ for local schools, prizes for raffles and good causes and work for people from the local community. If Bookshops go then so does all the above.”
“Amazon is a challenge but, we find that we can often equal them on price, if not beat them! As for our e-readers, many of our customers love them for holidays and long train journeys, but a surprising number also prefer the book as well!
“Unfortunately, when it comes to marketing, they have more clout, and Amazon and WHSmith are the first names many think of. But we keep plugging away and still manage to pick up new customers online and in the shop. The mane change to bookselling is the internet. We may have a slightly less footfall in the shop but we do sell all over the world. The business has changed dramatically in the twenty-six years we have been trading, and if you don’t change with it… forget it! So here is to the next twenty-six!”
After speaking to some independent booksellers we spoke to author Mark Lowery, of the children’s classic ‘The Jam Doughnut That Ruined My Life’ who has said;
“Yes, I think the independent booksellers have a really tough time of it. In my experience they seem to flourish either in small towns where they don’t face competition from a high street giant, or where the bookshop is a real institution, like p g Wells in Winchester. Personally I love them. They’re fantastically supportive of author events and school visits and they’re almost always brilliant places to just browse around. Also, the owners are always highly knowledgeable and passionate about books.”