It’s 30 years since I first set up a bookshop from scratch, in all I have set up 4 by that I mean arriving in an empty shop with tools and paintbrushes and getting stuck in.
With the way things have changed in bookselling I am pretty certain that it would be pretty much impossible now, out of town shopping, the dominance of the big chains, the internet but most of all the disbanding of the net book agreement means it is no longer feasible.
I am talking here about the full price bookshops like Albion bookshops in this area that are now all sadly closed apart from the one in Broadstairs that is to close soon.
Bookshops are essential to the cultural fabric of a town and experienced staff essential to maintain a stock that reflects customers’ interests and process stock orders properly.
The net book agreement fixed the price of most books, which meant that no one could price cut the bestsellers that the bookshops needed to sell to subsidise the cost of selling less profitable books.
This rather cranky sounding arrangement meant that in the UK we had pretty much the cheapest books in the world now we have pretty much the most expensive.
Much worse than this though is that the big chains buying is very much influenced by how much discount they get rather than the popularity of the subject.
I find it an interesting thought that Albion bookshop in Cliftonville has closed and the new Turner Tate extravaganza will have a state subsidised bookshop in it, this bookshop of course will probably just stock art books and I expect the stock will be very similar to and just as expensive as the art books for sale at Westwood Cross.