December 5, 2012
Designing the bookshop of the future
by Claire Kelley
Foyles, one of the best-known bookstores in London, and The Bookseller, the UK publishing industry news website, put out a call for input into their plans to design a “bookshop for the 21st century.” The project was announced at FutureBook Conference on Monday. In the Spring of 2014, the flagship Foyles store will move a few doors down on Charing Cross Road. The new bookshop will be designed by architecture firm Lifschutz Davidson and Sandilands.
Anyone who would like to contribute ideas—customers, publishers, and book lovers of all kinds—are encouraged to email their ideas to Foyles or participate in a workshop in February 2013 on the future of books.
Participants will be asked to engage with issues such as declining physical book sales, the place of eBooks, the cultural importance of bookshops and author events, the specialist knowledge of booksellers, and how bookshops can provide customers with a place to buy books, however they decide to read them. The results of this session will be made public, and those whose ideas are used in the new store will be notified.
Miriam Robinson, Foyles Head of Marketing, emphasized that the store will be ebook-friendly but will also be a space where customers can learn about new titles and authors.
Discoverability in the digital world is a leading and ongoing challenge, and yet discovery is what bookshops do best, via merchandising, events, bookseller knowledge and enthusiasm. What we are offering with this workshop is a truly unique opportunity, an open platform for creative but constructive play, a chance to create a bookshop where the experiential, cultural strengths of bricks and mortar meet the growing opportunities of digital.
The history of Foyles, starting with the bookshop’s founding in 1903, was recently illustrated by comic artists in 28 panels. The series includes tidbits of interesting history about the shop, including a story that the Pope belonged to a Catholic Foyles book club under a pseudonym and failed to pay his fees. The last panel, by designer Rian Hughes depicts the future store.
Claire Kelley is a the former Director of Library and Academic Marketing.