The Pan Bookshop to close - sad news
I have just received an e news flash from the Bookseller Magazine to say that the Pan Bookshop in London is too close after thirty two years of trading. How sad. Not that I used it being down here in Hampshire and they in London, but it's another book institution gone and reflects the changing nature of book selling today.
Books are a low cost item (generally) and not a fast moving consumer good (FMCG) so I don't expect the high rents in Chelsea were helping the shop to trade profitably. Selling books whether you are a bookseller, author or publisher is b***** hard work. For the author it's a matter of getting his or her name out there and building readership, but that all takes time and by then the bookshop could have 'returned' your book, and the publisher could have dropped you because you just aren't selling enough.
Publishers don't have the time, resources or money to commit to marketing an unknown author but instead concentrate on their BIG names, their 'cash cows!' But how about developing the 'stars' or the 'question marks'? For those of you who aren't marketing savvy this means the authors that they think might earn them money in the future (stars). And I am sure that many publishers are doing just that. And lucky author if you are a 'star' but that doesn't mean you should rest on your laurels and leave it all to your publisher. Oh no, you need to help the process by marketing yourself. And what about the 'question marks'? These are authors who are much more difficult to identify, and are usually left to their own devices. The book is published and that's it.
Therefore, authors need to market themselves and turn their 'question mark' into a 'star' and a 'star' ultimately (hopefully) into a 'cash cow.' This is where the Internet is such a boom, making it far easier for authors, at low cost, to get their name out there. In addition, I believe that more and more books are going to be sold over the Internet in the years ahead, which again, I think is good news for authors because we can build and spread word of mouth over the net.
Anyway, back to book selling. Looking into my crystal ball here are my predictions. The supermarkets will continue to concentrate on the BIG names, and the chains will find it tough, probably sticking to the tried and tested, though there are some hints that Borders might become more innovative now.
And independent bookshops like the Pan Bookshop?
Well some independent bookshops will survive, these will be the ones offering a truly friendly and personal service, who are an essential part of the community. The ones who offer that little extra, or as they say in the jargon ‘value added’ and you don’t get more ‘value added’ than the Hayling Island Bookshop who not only organise tons of events in our local and wider community especially for children and in schools, but hand deliver books to the elderly and sick and end up putting up clocks, mending shelves, buying milk and bread and delivering the post. Now that’s what I call real personal service. Well done Colin and Marie Telford. Long may you and others like you survive and thrive.