Thursday, June 9, 2011

The Future of the (Chain) Bookshop?

The last week has been spent making plans for research and fieldwork for the Future of the Bookshop Project. Some recent news here in the UK has been helpful in guiding my plans:

Sainsbury's (the supermarket) was awarded the UK Bookseller of the Year award this year. A surprise move, and one that frustrated many booksellers...

The head of a chain of independent bookshops across London, Daunts Books, has been appointed as managing director of the faultering national book chain Waterstones. This article from the Observer sets the scene quite well, I think. And this earlier piece from the Spectator offers some cogent arguments for why there are problems in thinking that local success can extend across a nation.

Further afield in the US, I was pleased to find out about the success of the Fleeting Pages experiment in pop-up bookshoppery too.

Having considered these events and the current situation for bookselling in the UK I'm now fixed on a plan for fieldwork that should generate a great deal of interesting data. It seems likely that (pending approval) I'll be working on at least six different locations: a pop up shop, a community independent, a local 'indie chain', a national chain, a supermarket and an online retailer.

I've already begun work with the pop-up and tomorrow will visit a local independent bookshop in North London where I'm planning to make it there in time to catch children's story hour.

Finally, more photos like the one at the top of this post can be found here

Friday, June 3, 2011

The Emerging Writers Festival and Melbourne, a city of literature?

Last week I was a (virtual) guest of the Emerging Writers Festival in Melbourne. (Lucky for me since I'm currently in London and it would have been difficult to be there any other way.) This year the festival is really expanding its digital component and as a part of that myself and Daniel Wood were asked to pen a few thoughts about what is happening to Melbourne as a City of Literature. As part of an ongoing project with Kirsten Seale at RMIT we've been considering how the 'City of Literature' could engage more directly with the city itself. You can read on, here. And be sure to go through all the way to the comments where you'll find a bunch of great thoughts, proposals and provocations...