Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Pop ups and downfalls

A few bits and pieces of relevant bookshop news turned up over the last few days -

Here's a pop up project happening in New York in autumn that is trying to engage with the idea of giving public space a literary quality. The Uni project is a portable space based on a system of cubes. The books inside the cubes are only the beginning of the concept. Partly a library, the project will act as a venue for readings, talks, workshops and screenings - all organised in partnership with various local organisations. Because it's lightweight and portable it can be moved around to suit the location and the requirements. Have a look at the website to see how the Uni project can function and you'll see how the same principle would work for a pop up bookshop.
The Australian website Crikey also had a couple of very interesting articles over the weekend addressing the demise of the bookshop in Australia. First was Matthia Dempsey's essay (reprinted/revised from a version originally published in Kill Your Darlings) about the consumer's obligation to shop responsibly. This is a subject I'm going to be writing about in more depth very soon - Are book consumers going to take on ethical purchasing practices in the same way that we have embraced other responsible consumer practices like fair trade, free range and so on? It certainly seems as if book sellers think so. The Melbourne newspaper The Age ran this story about the news of an Australian/New Zealand version of the original US 'Indie Bound' scheme that encourages shoppers to use local independent retailers.

The other piece that caught my eye addressed the downfall of the REDgroup (who were owners of Borders in Australia and the local Australian book retailer Angus and Robertson). Perhaps the most interesting outcome of the disintegration of these chain bookstores is that, in the words of publisher Michael Heywood (quoted in the article), Australia has "become a nation of independent booksellers overnight."

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