Tuesday, October 27, 2015

foyles… and other bookshops

Moira and I have been regular customers of the excellent Foyles bookshop ever since it opened in Quakers Friars, here in Bristol, five years ago.
It’s a lovely place – one that makes browsing pleasurable (they also have a comfortable cafĂ©… although the quality of their coffee, to my mind, leaves much to be desired!).
Sadly, the extent of the titles stocked seems somewhat limited – a situation no doubt echoed, at least to some extent, in bookshops throughout the country – and invariably one ends up having to order specific books.
Well, we’ve just discovered that Foyles will be re-locating to a smaller (sorry,”cosier”!) shop in Cabot Circus. As their publicity confirms: “we’ll be honest: we’re moving to a cosier shop, and that means we’re having to do some work to trim back our shelves a little – which will give more focus on the books that our readers really want to read” (… shorthand for “more popular”?).
In these days of Amazon (and their "tax-avoiding" status!), I suppose we should just be grateful that we still have Waterstones, Blackwell’s and Foyles in Bristol.
Foyles clearly acknowledge that many people enjoy the convenience of ordering books online and are keen to underline that: “Our range doesn’t end at the end of our bookcases though – Bristol will be the second shop in the chain to adopt our brand new instore digital ordering platform, via which customers will have easy access to over half a million titles”.
Unfortunately, it’s a double-whammy. Not only will you have less chance of them stocking your book, but also the alternative click+collect or order online facility will almost certainly be more expensive than an Amazon alternative. Ironically/incredibly, today's situation (where buying in store or online or click+collect is the same price) is slightly better than it was a couple of years ago (see my blog post of January 2013) , when it was actually cheaper to click+collect or order online from Foyles than to buy it from their bookshop!!
We’ll continue to buy our books from a bookshop whenever possible – even if it doesn’t make economic sense – because we just love bookshops. The sad fact remains that perhaps within 20 years, bookshops are likely to have become an absolute rarity… our grandchildren’s children will be asking their parents to tell them stories of the days when people actually used to buy books from bookshops. No way!
PS: When our children were growing up, I have lovely memories of spending several hours of Saturday mornings with them at the wonderful Book House bookshop in Thame, Oxfordshire (and it’s still going strong: http://www.thebookhousethame.co.uk/)

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